Private equity firm, Livingbridge, has announced its investment in contract caterer and restaurant operator rhubarb, having purchased ECI Partners’ (ECI) stake in the business.
The deal is the first investment from its new £660 million fund, Livingbridge 6, which targets companies with enterprise values typically between £20 million and £125 million, and is 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.
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.
According to Livingbridge its investment in rhubarb will enable the business to continue with its across the UK and internationally with the overall aim of doubling in size in the next four years.
PB Jacobse, CEO of rhubarb, commented:
“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.”
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.
rhubarb has offices in London and Surrey, with 248 full time members of staff and more than 900 temporary staff on its books.