Bar operator Arc Inspirations is set to accelerate its growth after securing significant investment from BGF – the UK and Ireland’s most active growth capital investor – for a minority stake in the Martin-led business Wolstencroft.

BGF is investing £19m in the Leeds-based business. The deal means the company will look to double its footprint over the next few years by opening multiple bar locations in major UK cities, rolling out its “cluster” strategy.

The funding announcement marks a new phase for the company, paving the way for an accelerated rollout of its three premium brands Banyan Bar & Kitchen, BOX and Manahatta. The investment will support the company’s ambition to double the activity of its current 18 sites, opening at least four new sites per year over the next three to five years.

Wolstencroft said: “We are absolutely delighted to have secured this investment from BGF, who are committed investors with a proven track record of supporting growth and success in the hospitality and leisure industry.

“This funding will allow us to significantly expand our business, allowing us to take advantage of substantial market opportunities over the next few years as we take our winning brands to more key cities across the UK.”

This agreement marks the first time that Arc has introduced an external investment into the group. Its expansion to date – since Wolstencroft and co-founder Chris Ure launched the business in 1999 – has been funded by the company and more recently through a renewed partnership with HSBC.

Wolstencroft, Ure and chief executive Anni Opong remain “significant” shareholders in the company.

As part of the agreement, non-executive director Steve Richards, CEO of Parkdean Resorts and chairman of UKHospitality, will continue to support the management team as non-executive chairman.

The investment comes after a year of resurgence and recovery for the company from the challenges of the pandemic. Arc Inspirations recently recorded record annual sales, exceeding £40 million, and last autumn opened two new iconic locations, in Birmingham (Manahatta) and Deansgate, Manchester (BOX).

Advisors to the deal were: Arc Inspirations – KPMG (Christian Mayo), Gordons (James Fawcett, Amy Pierechod and Lauren Wurzal); BGF – Esquire Patton Boggs (Paul Mann, Joshua Lodge and Sarah Hardman).

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