Imbiba closes £50m fund for high growth UK leisure and hospitality businesses, with £30m contribution from British Business Bank

Press release 12 February 2018

Imbiba, the specialist leisure and hospitality investment group, has closed the Imbiba Growth Fund at its hard cap target of £50m. With an investment of £30m provided by the British Business, the Imbiba Growth Fund will provide growth capital and operational support to young and dynamic UK leisure businesses seeking to scale.

The £30m contribution comes from the British Business Bank’s Enterprise Capital Funds (ECF) programme, which combines private and public money to make equity investments in high growth businesses. Since inception, around £1.14bn (including third party investment) has been committed through the programme. The ECF programme is a significant part of the UK venture capital industry, with 27 funds facilitating finance to 421 SMEs.

We are pleased to have raised this new fund, with investment from the British Business Bank alongside several of the UK’s most successful leisure entrepreneurs, to provide both capital and operational support to some of most exciting growth businesses in our sector. Having traded through different economic cycles over the last 20 years, we see some fantastic opportunities in the current leisure market and believe that an agile £50m fund will be key to help to drive the growth of some of the more dynamic businesses in our industry. John Connell Chairman of Imbiba
The expansion of our Enterprise Capital Funds programme is a central part of the Bank’s work to grow the UK’s patient capital market and ensure high growth smaller businesses can access the equity finance they need to realise their growth potential. We are delighted to have completed this investment into the Imbiba Growth Fund and to partner with the team at Imbiba, who have a history of success in supporting high growth UK companies. Ken Cooper Managing Director, Venture Solutions at the British Business Bank

According to Deloitte1 , the UK leisure and hospitality market is estimated to be worth £117bn, accounting for 7.4% of GDP. Eating out remains the most popular leisure activity in the UK and the percentage of disposable income given over to the category by UK consumers continues to increase – consumers aged 18-34 years-old being the most optimistic in this category, with intentions to spend more. Frequency of spend has also dramatically grown over the last 15 years, creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs.

Founded by former leisure entrepreneurs, Imbiba has been investing in the UK leisure market for 20 years, supporting leisure and hospitality brands including Drake & Morgan, Darwin & Wallace, Temper and Purple Dragon, amongst many others.

At Autumn Budget 2017, the Government gave a vote of confidence to the British Business Bank’s ECF programme, committing a further £1bn over the next 10 years.

Further Information

IMBIBA, 33 Temple Chambers, Temple Avenue, London EC4Y 0HP /

Notes to editors


Imbiba focuses exclusively on the UK leisure and hospitality market. Founded by former leisure entrepreneurs, the team provide support as former operator-investors in key areas of property, operational finance, branding and digital marketing.

Imbiba Partners

John Connell, Chairman

John is a serial leisure entrepreneur who built and sold two UK pub groups prior to founding Imbiba in 1997 as a specialist investor, focused on the bar, restaurant and hospitality sectors. John has been Chairman of all 15 Imbiba investments since 1997 and has unrivalled connections to the UK leisure property market.

Simon Wheeler, Partner

A chartered accountant, Simon trained at a Big Four practice before moving into industry with Cadbury Schweppes. From 1997 Simon was Finance Director of the early Imbiba investments before transitioning to a Non-Executive Finance Director role, recruiting FDs into the respective businesses, ensuring high quality reporting and margin control across all Imbiba businesses.

Brian Phillips, Partner

Brian has over 30 years private equity experience, developing a wide range of businesses, initially at Bridgepoint, before founding Greenhill Capital (renamed Kester). Brian has completed over 40 private equity investments and overseen many more. His leisure market investments include Cafe Rouge, Bella Italia, Vue Cinemas and Rileys, amongst others.

Fraser Bradshaw, Partner

Fraser has 25 years’ experience in strategic marketing within client companies and communications agencies. As former managing director at McCann Erickson, he has worked in UK and international markets developing business and brand plans with a focus on the leisure industry. Fraser is founder of creative agency saintnicks.

Darrel Connell, Partner

Darrel has spent nine years in corporate finance and private equity. Prior to joining Imbiba he was a Director at Foresight Group, a market leading UK lower mid-market private equity firm with £2bn of assets under management. Darrel led the firm’s consumer and leisure coverage and was a Non-Executive on the board of multiple high growth consumer businesses.

The Imbiba Advisory Board comprise some of the leading names in the leisure market:

Karen Jones CBE, Chairman Hawksmoor/Corbin & King / Tom Davies, CEO Brakespear / Karen Forrester, CEO TGI Friday’s, Graham Turner, Chairman of ETM Group and Barburrito / Martin Clarke – Former Head of Leisure, Permira /CFO, The AA

About the British Business Bank

The British Business Bank is the UK’s national economic development bank. Established in November 2014, its mission is to make finance markets for smaller businesses work more effectively, enabling those businesses to prosper, grow and build UK economic activity. Our remit is to design, deliver and efficiently manage UK-wide smaller business access to finance programmes for the UK government.

The British Business Bank is currently supporting over £4bn of finance to more than 60,000 smaller businesses, and participating in a further £6.6bn of finance to mid-cap businesses (as at end September 2017).

As well as increasing both supply and diversity of finance for UK smaller businesses through its programmes, the Bank works to raise awareness of the finance options, including equity, available to smaller businesses. 

More information, including a legal structure chart for British Business Bank plc and its subsidiaries, can be found on the British Business Bank website.

As the holding company of the group operating under the trading name of British Business Bank, it is a development bank wholly owned by HM Government which is not authorised or regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The British Business Bank operates under its own brand name through a number of subsidiaries, one of which is authorised and regulated by the FCA.

Enterprise Capital Funds is a programme of British Business Finance Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of British Business Bank plc.