Investment firm Bridges Fund Management has invested £8.5 million to take a majority stake in Innovate, a school catering business.
Innovate provides meals to over 90,000 children at 120 primary and secondary schools in England. It also works with its partner schools through events, school councils and parents’ meetings to promote the benefits of healthy eating.
The investment will be used to support the management team to expand the service to new schools. The school meals market is currently worth over £2 billion a year.
The transaction was completed off-market after Bridges approached management directly.
Geoff Peppiatt, Executive Chair of Innovate, said: “Our core purpose is, and always has been, to ensure that young people can enjoy high-quality, nutritious food in their schools and colleges. But beyond that, we believe we should do whatever we can to create a better world. Bridges has long been a leader in impact investing, and we felt they really understood our values and our vision for the business. With their support, we’re committing to the goal of becoming an ‘Impact Organisation’: working within the school and wider community to encourage healthier lifestyles, positive employment practices and sustainability.”
Emma Thorne, Investment Manager at Bridges Fund Management, added: “Having identified school catering as an attractive sector, we approached Innovate because we felt they were one of the best operators in the space. So we were delighted to find that they shared our view of the growth and impact potential of the business, and we’re excited to be working with management to take Innovate to the next level.”
This is the second deal the Bridges UK Sustainable Growth Funds team has completed since the start of the year, following the bolt-on acquisition of Fitness Hut by portfolio company Viva Gym in January.