Livingbridge, the mid-market private equity firm, today announces its investment in rhubarb, the premium food and beverage operator. The deal is the first investment from its new £660m fund, Livingbridge 6.
Originally established in 1996 as an events business, rhubarb expanded its activities in 2003 to include the operation of lease and concession contracts at iconic, high footfall locations, initially by providing high-end catering at Ascot Racecourse.
Today, the company operates long term contracts at venues including the Sky Garden at the ‘Walkie Talkie’ building in London, the Royal Albert Hall and events at the Goodwood Estate. It also provides bespoke catering solutions at around 600 events per year for a broad range of clients, from high profile charity galas for 2,000 guests to small, intimate dinners in country venues.
With offices in London and Surrey, the firm now employs 248 full time members of staff alongside over 900 temporary staff.
rhubarb is the first investment from the Livingbridge 6 fund, which completed fundraising in September 2016 and targets companies with enterprise values typically between £20m and £125m. The investment in rhubarb is also Livingbridge’s third in the food and drink sector having invested in Pho, the Vietnamese fast casual restaurant in 2012, and Bistrot Pierre, the regional French bistrot group in 2015.
The investment from Livingbridge, will help rhubarb’s continued growth across the UK and internationally with the overall aim of doubling in size in the next four years. In addition, Richard Prosser, who has private equity expertise within the global leisure, travel and tourism industries, will be joining as Chairman on completion of the deal.
PB Jacobse, CEO of rhubarb, said: “We are very excited to be working with Livingbridge on the next stage of our development, particularly in light of their knowledge of the food and beverage market through their existing investments. We are ideally positioned to benefit from positive market trends and current consumer tastes and, with a good level of visibility over our existing contracts, as well as a strong pipeline of new growth opportunities, we are confident of building on the strong momentum we have generated to date.”
Benoit Broch, Director at Livingbridge said: “rhubarb’s management team have done a fantastic job in growing the business over recent years, securing a number of high profile contracts and creating a premium, differentiated brand that is highly valued by consumers and businesses alike. The company have long-term contracts at some fantastic locations and a strong pipeline of future growth opportunities and we are very much looking forward to helping them expand their offering both throughout the UK and overseas.”
Advisers to Livingbridge:
Corporate finance: Houlihan Lokey
Property: Davis Coffer Lyons
Debt advisory: GCA Altium
Debt providers: European capital & HSBC
Advisers to Management:
Lead advisory: Liberty Corporate Finance
Legal: Ropes & Gray LLP
Advisers to rhubarb and ECI:
Lead advisory: Lincoln International
Legal: Burges Salmon