Spice Private Equity has acquired a significant minority stake in UK-based fast food chain Leon Restaurants, making it the largest shareholder in the business.
Spice, a Swiss-listed private equity investor backed by Brazilian asset manager GP Investments, will invest around £25m in the business, which is also backed by Active Private Equity.
Leon was founded in 2004 by John Vincent, Henry Dimbleby and chef Allegra McEvedy and now operates 40 outlets in London and two in the Netherlands. It focuses on providing healthy fast food inspired by Mediterranean cooking.
Spice’s investment will be used to help Leon expand in the UK and internationally.
The investment is the first made by Spice in accordance with its new investment strategy to focus on direct investments. The company is actively searching for other interesting opportunities.
Fersen Lambranho, member of the Board of Directors of Spice and Chairman of GP Investments said: “Leon is a disruptive fast-food model that was born in the UK but has an immense potential to become global. We see Leon as an opportunity to replicate the great success of a former investment, Fogo de Chão, a Brazilian steakhouse that expanded into the US and is now listed on the NASDAQ.“
John Vincent, co-founder and CEO of Leon said: “To be successful Leon needs the right purpose, the right leaders and the right investors. To become the world's leading naturally fast food company we need partners who share the vision and can help make it happen. We are fortunate to have been approached by many potential partners. The decision to say yes to Spice was because of the high regard I have for the individuals of GP Investments, who manage Spice. I am also delighted that Active, our existing investor who has been so helpful to our growth, is participating in this fundraising too.”
In 2015 Leon's revenues rose by nearly 50% to £36.9 million while its profits before tax, interest and other considerations rose by the same amount to £2.26 million.