Oakman Inns has its sights set on operating 30 restaurants within the next two years after securing £24m in investment from three fund-raising exercises.
The group said the “lion’s share” of the cash would be available for a raft of major developments, which will see it take its estate from 18 units up to 30 by 2019.
Oakman Inns CEO, Peter Borg-Neal, described it as a “very aggressive” expansion plan.
“I am delighted that we have already raised the cash we need and I would like to thank and recognise my FD, Joseph Evans, for the skill and tenacity he showed in getting our senior debt facility with Santander over the line,” he said.
“We have also developed innovative ways of raising debt to supplement this facility. Of the £24m we have raised, over half is available to fund our CAPEX programme. We still have some dry powder and will consider raising more cash if the right acquisition opportunities become available.”
News of the finance boost comes as the group said today that trading during its fiscal first quarter was “significantly ahead of expectations”. Sales rose 12% year-on-year for the quarter ending 2 July.
“The good weather has been a factor in the 12.4% like-for-like growth – as has our investment in some of our older sites last year. However, when you strip everything back our Comparables are at +4.4%, demonstrating the health of the underlying business,” said Borg-Neal.
Borg-Neal acknowledged that there are some uncertainties in the wider economy that may present challenges to the industry and admitted the financial impact of Business Rates rises has reduced the number of sites it will be opening in the next 12 months by two.
But he stressed that the chain has an excellent pipeline in place and its strategy remains unchanged. “We intend to think in clear and simple terms about what matters to this evolving market and will retain a focus on quality, great people and excellent sites. We see further opportunity to obtain sites where we identify strong consumer demand alongside poor supply side provision – with places such as Harpenden, the Chalfonts and the Bedford area being among our key targets.”