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Penta Capital buys into the Seafood Pub Company to fund next phase of growth

Friday, 15th July 2016

The Seafood Pub Company is delighted to announce that Penta Capital (“Penta”) has acquired a majority stake in the business to further expand the Company’s multi award-winning portfolio of gastro-pubs in the North West.

Penta, an established private equity investor in UK mid-market companies, has a proven track record of investing in – and growing - many successful Consumer businesses including Geronimo Inns, La Tasca and EAT.

Founded in 2010 by Joycelyn Neve, the Seafood Pub Company commenced trading in 2011 with its initial pub, The Oyster & Otter in Blackburn, Lancashire, and today comprises a portfolio of eight individual food pubs in the North West.  The Neves originate from a long line of fishermen who fished the North Sea and Irish Sea for generations which underpins the Company’s established prowess in specialising in fresh seafood and fish dishes.  Joycelyn, who was only 25 when she founded the business, has quickly established an impressive reputation in the hospitality sector over the last five years.  With a commitment to using fresh, quality ingredients and sourcing the very best of British produce, she has built a multi award-winning pub group with an enviable reputation for creative food – particularly from the sea.  Chris Neve, Joycelyn’s father, is still involved in the business using his unrivalled experience to source the finest quality produce from sea and shore. 

The Seafood Pub Company has flourished since the outset and currently has a unique portfolio of eight gastro-pubs located throughout Lancashire, four of which have boutique bedroom accommodation.  Five of the eight properties are freehold and the remainder leasehold.  Each pub within the portfolio has its own personality and identity which reflects its location and clientele, spanning destination rural inns with elegant country bedrooms to premium seafood-led dining concepts and neighbourhood pub restaurants, being awarded many industry accolades over the last six years including Best Food Offer in the 2015/6 Publican Awards and Pub and Bar Award at the 2016 Cateys.

With a strong new site pipeline, the Company has ambition to more than double its pub portfolio and expand to 20 sites over the next three to five years.  The acquisition strategy will continue to focus in the North of England through a combination of freehold and leasehold sites spreading its geographic footprint into Cheshire, the Lake District and North Yorkshire.  The Company has a stated strategic objective to maintain a minimum 70% freehold estate and recently secured its ninth site, The Forest Inn in Fence near Pendle in Lancashire, which is due to open in August 2016.  This latest addition to the Seafood Pub Company stable is the sixth freehold within the portfolio and will also provide accommodation with eight boutique bedrooms. A tenth site has also been identified and is due to be announced shortly.

The Company benefits from an experienced operational team.  Andrew McLean, Executive Chairman, is an experienced specialist in the acquisition and development of hospitality properties, and founded The Devonshire Pub Company in 1991 which grew from 25 to 120 sites under his tenure.  Executive Chef, Anthony Shirley, has over 18 years’ experience of producing creative cuisine from the very best British produce.  In addition, Ian Edward, Chairman of Brasserie Blanc and co-founder of Hippo Inns, has also been appointed as a Non Executive Director of the Company.

The Company has also established a development kitchen in association with a local catering college, ensuring that there is a rich seam of future hospitality talent on tap for the business.

Penta Capital has arranged a £18 million funding package to acquire a majority equity stake in the business and provide funds for expansion. The funding package includes additional debt support from RBS Manchester.  Joycelyn and other members of the management team will remain substantial shareholders in the Company and will continue to lead growth of the business. 

Joycelyn Neve, Managing Director of The Seafood Pub Company, said:“We are delighted to partner with Penta Capital which has a proven track record of backing a number of other successful pub and leisure retail businesses.  Torquil and the team at Penta totally buy-into our strategy and their support and expertise will be invaluable as we take the business to the next level.  We have exciting expansion plans and this partnership will enable us to realise those and further accelerate our growth.”

Torquil Macnaughton, Managing Partner of Penta Capital, said: “We were attracted to The Seafood Pub Company’s unique proposition and the fact that it had demonstrated an impressive track record of growth since its inception only six years ago.  Joycelyn is a talented, young entrepreneur and we look forward to working together with her, and the wider management team, to continue to build the business and support this new phase of development for the Company.”

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