BGF backs Yorkshire-based restaurant chain Filmore & Union

Adele Ashley of Filmore & Union  Picture Bruce Rollinson
Adele Ashley of Filmore & Union Picture Bruce Rollinson
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A YORKSHIRE-based chain of restaurants and delis is set to enjoy rapid growth after gaining support from one of the UK’s biggest investors in small and mid-sized businesses.

Filmore & Union has secured a £3.5m investment from BGF to accelerate its new site rollout. The Leeds-based company, which operates 14 sites and recently opened a concession in John Lewis, will use the funding to expand its portfolio across the North of England and the Midlands.

Established in 2012 by Adele Ashley, the business serves a menu of fresh and seasonal food and drinks, as well as gluten-free cakes. The business was voted one of the Sunday Times’ Top Three UK health eateries in 2016.

Starting from a single site in York, Filmore & Union now runs restaurants across Yorkshire, including sites in Ilkley, Harrogate, Beverley, Skipton and Wetherby, as well as food to go delis in Newcastle and York train stations. The business raised £865,000 on Crowdcube in 2015 and today generates revenues of more than £6m.

Apart from the investment, the experienced entrepreneur Kevin Bacon will join the company as non-executive chairman, following an introduction by BGF.

He is a former MD of Frankie & Benny’s and Jamie’s Italian and has been chosen for the role because of his knowledge of the North-West region, the next area of focus for the rollout.

Filmore & Union joins a growing number of regional and national restaurant brands that have been backed by BGF, including Bar Soba, which has opened a site in Leeds, Barburrito and Giggling Squid.

BGF has £2.5bn to support a range of growing companies – early stage, growth stage and quoted – across every region and sector of the economy.

The investment in Filmore & Union was led by BGF’s Chris Boyes and Mike Clarke, who are based in Leeds.

Ms Ashley said: “We believe there is a very clear market opportunity to expand the Filmore & Union portfolio.

“We have built a loyal customer base who feel an affinity to the brand and share our passion for eating well.

“We have built the business in Yorkshire and the North East and are excited to expand the brand across the North of England.

“We are delighted to be partnering with BGF. We had a number of other options, however BGF’s long-term approach as well as its broader network, was very attractive and the investment will help us accelerate our growth plans.”

BGF’s Mr Boyes added: “Adele has created a popular restaurant concept which caters to the growing market for customers who are focused on eating well.

“The team has established a good foundation to continue the rollout across the UK, and we are excited to support the next stage of growth.”

Management were advised by Paul Land and Andy Kerr of TLP Capital Partners, with legal advice from Dahren Naidoo of Freeths.

John Hamer and Thomas Mieszkowski of Walker Morris provided legal advice to BGF.

BGF makes long-term equity capital investments in companies in return for a minority stake. Initial investments are typically between £2m to £10m and BGF can provide significant follow-on funding. BGF describes itself as a minority, non-controlling equity partner with a patient outlook. It shares long-term goals with the management teams it backs. BGF offers flexible investment structures with a mix of equity and unsecured debt.

BGF can provide equity release for existing shareholders, and funding to support acquisitive and organic growth strategies.

It has a team of more than 150 people and can provide an international network of business leaders, sector experts, and board level non-executives.

Health food restaurant chain Filmore & Union recently joined forces with John Lewis in Leeds to offer local children aged 6-12 a free health-driven summer school.

The summer school event, which took place at John Lewis in Leeds as part of a week of children’s activities run by the retailer, was designed to help parents and their children understand how they can enjoy a healthy lifestyle.

Filmore & Union was founded in 2011 by former wellness clinic owner Adele Ashley who started creating recipes from a test kitchen in Wetherby in response to the lack of healthy restaurant and takeaway options in the region.

In 2012, the first Filmore & Union restaurant was opened in the centre of York.