Drake & Morgan plans national expansion after MBO

The DriftThe management of London bar-restaurant group Drake & Morgan have bought out the business in a private-equity deal that prepares it for UK-wide expansion.

Mid-market private equity firm Bowmark Capital is backing the £30million buy-out and expansion financing of Drake & Morgan, which has grown to five venues over the past four-and-a-half years.

Drake & Morgan was founded by the Imbiba Partnership, the specialist bar and restaurant investment partnership, and managing director Jillian MacLean.

Since opening its first site, The Refinery in Southwark in late 2008, the company has added The Parlour in Canary Wharf, and three sites in the City – The Anthologist, The Folly and The Drift (pictured). Two additional venues are due to open later his year – The Happenstance in St Paul’s and a new site in Holborn. The management has identified a further eight sites for opening over the following two years.

Over the longer-term, the company plans to roll-out the concept nationwide and believes there is potential for up to 70 units across the UK.

Drake & Morgan has won numerous industry awards and has grown sales at over 75 per cent a year over the past three years to their current level of £18million.

Bowmark has committed further funds to support the roll-out strategy, alongside a debt package from RBS Financial Sponsors.

Bowmark has a strong track record of backing successful roll-outs in the leisure industry, including previous investments in the Las Iguanas restaurant chain and The Living Room bars.

John Connell of Imbiba said: “This transaction is consistent with our ‘buy, build and exit’ business model. Drake and Morgan has now completed its ‘start-up stage’ following which the dynamics of the company will change and it is now time to hand over to new owners to move the company to a more mature level.

“This exit represents a truly excellent return for Imbiba Partnership shareholders and illustrates our consistent ability to deliver significant shareholder value. We have known Bowmark for a long time and have been impressed by their understanding and approach to the sector. I look forward to working with them during this transition period and seeing Drake & Morgan flourish over the coming years.”

Connell will continue in his role as chairman of Drake & Morgan post-transaction. He and his fellow Imbiba partners, Simon Wheeler and Mark Brumby, are retaining a minority stake alongside Jillian MacLean and her management team.

Jillian said: “We are very excited about the next phase of our growth strategy and, with Bowmark’s support and financial backing, we look forward to accelerating the roll-out of the company, both in central London and in other locations across the country.”

Bowmark partner Ron Pearson added: “Drake & Morgan represents an appealing proposition for both customers and landlords, and is led by one the best management teams in the hospitality sector. We believe the business has significant potential for further growth, and look forward to working with Jillian and her team to scale the business.”

Drake & Morgan and Imbiba were advised by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

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