A £50m investment fund has been created to provide growth capital and operational support to young and dynamic UK leisure businesses seeking to scale.
Investment group Imbiba has closed the fund at its hard cap target of £50m after receiving an injection of £30m from the British Business Bank’s Enterprise Capital Funds (ECF) programme, which combines private and public money to make equity investments in high growth businesses.
Since inception, around £1.14 billion, including third party investment, has been committed through the programme. The ECF programme is a significant part of the UK venture capital industry, with 27 funds facilitating finance to 421 SMEs.
John Connell, chairman of Imbiba, which in the past has invested in brands such as Drake & Morgan and Darwin & Wallace, said the fund would be used to support some of the “most exciting” growth businesses in the sector.
“Having traded through different economic cycles over the last 20 years, we see some fantastic opportunities in the current leisure market and believe that an agile £50m fund will be key to help drive the growth of some of the more dynamic businesses in our industry,” he said.
According to Deloitte, the UK leisure and hospitality market is estimated to be worth £117 billion, accounting for 7.4% of GDP.
Eating out remains the most popular leisure activity in the UK and the percentage of disposable income given over to the category by UK consumers continues to increase.
Ken Cooper, managing director of Venture Solutions at the British Business Bank, said: “The expansion of our Enterprise Capital Funds programme is a central part of the Bank’s work to grow the UK’s patient capital market and ensure high growth smaller businesses can access the equity finance they need to realise their growth potential.”
Imbiba was founded by former leisure entrepreneurs and has been investing in the UK leisure market for 20 years.