Bar investor Imbiba raises new £50m fund for growth


No 29 Power Station

A new £50million fund has been raised by Imbiba, the growth capital investor that is supporting expansion for bar operators such as Darwin & Wallace and Albion & East.

Thanks to £30million provided by the British Business Bank, the Imbiba Growth Fund will provide growth capital and operational support to young and dynamic UK leisure businesses seeking to scale up over a five-year period, providing between £1million and £10million.

John Connell, chairman of Imbiba, said: “We are pleased to have raised this new fund, with investment from the British Business Bank alongside several of the UK’s most successful leisure entrepreneurs, to provide both capital and operational support to some of most exciting growth businesses in our 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 £50million fund will be key to help to drive the growth of some of the more dynamic businesses in our industry.”

Imbiba’s current portfolio includes Darwin & Wallace which has grown to five neighbourhood bars around London, including No 29 Power Station West which opened next to Battersea Power Station last autumn (pictured).

It has also helped Albion & East, headed by Sarah Weir, to expand to two bars, opening Canova Hall in Brixton after the success of Martello Hall in Hackney. Another investment, Wright & Bell, opened its first bar and restaurant, The Kitty Hawk, in the City of London last year.

The £30million contribution comes 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 £1.14billion, 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 helping to provide finance to 421 small and medium-sized businesses.

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.

“We are delighted to have completed this investment into the Imbiba Growth Fund and to partner with the team at Imbiba, who have a history of success in supporting high-growth UK companies.”

In last year’s Autumn Budget, the government gave a vote of confidence to the British Business Bank’s ECF programme, committing a further £1 billion over the next 10 years.

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