Independent coffee shop chain Bob & Berts has become the third company in Northern Ireland to secure a major equity investment from BGF, the UK’s most active investor in small and mid-sized companies.
The business, which is known for its distinctive style, quality offering and local community focused approach, has 16 coffee shops across Northern Ireland in locations including Coleraine, Portstewart, Stranmillis, Lisburn, Omagh and Dungannon.
The company has built a strong reputation for providing high quality artisan coffee, combined with an extensive fresh food offering and a range of traybakes served throughout the day.
BGF’s investment will be used to support the company’s continued growth strategy, with plans to open 30 additional stores in Northern Ireland, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. Once opened the new stores will create up to 600 new full time and part time jobs.
Bob & Berts was founded in Portstewart by Colin McClean, his father Arnold and brother-in-law David Ferguson. They recognised the market opportunity to create a differentiated offering, with a focus on satisfying demand for quality coffee and fresh food, including breakfast, lunch and evening meals. With its distinctive relaxed style and wide food offering, Bob & Berts appeals to a wide customer base that continues to grow.
Colin McClean co-owner of Bob & Berts, said: “The business is growing quickly and we are ambitious to take the next step. We have successfully opened ten new stores in the last two years and are looking to open a further 30 over the next four years. Working with BGF will enable us to accelerate our growth plans and we are now actively looking at sites in Northern Ireland, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. Fundamental to our growth plans will be maintaining the culture and the ethos which has made Bob & Berts a hit with our customers.”
David Ferguson co-owner of Bob & Berts, said: “When we first set up Bob & Berts, we wanted to offer something different to large multi-national coffee chains. Our branding, food selection and interior design sets us apart from our competition and we believe that we have created an environment which encourages people to relax. All of our new cafes will be created with this culture in mind.”
Bob & Berts is the third business in Northern Ireland to secure funding from BGF’s £2.5bn pot following its investments in housebuilder Braidwater and waste management experts RiverRidge. BGF makes long-term investments and holds non-controlling stakes in the companies it supports.
As part of its investment, industry expert Mohan Mansigani will be joining the board of Bob & Berts as the company’s non-executive chair. Mr Mansigani has held a number of senior management positions in the cafes and restaurant sector market and was instrumental in establishing the growth model for Costa Coffee in the UK.
Patrick Graham, Head of BGF’s Northern Ireland and Central Scotland team said: “We are excited to begin working with Colin and David who, in a short period, have successfully developed a strong brand with significant growth potential. This investment, along with the introduction of Mohan, who brings a wealth of experience to the company, will help unlock their desire and drive to expand significantly in the coming years and we look forward to partnering with the business for this journey.”
BGF continues to have a strong focus on Northern Ireland as we believe our long term, minority approach fits well with business owners here. Bob & Berts represents our third investment here over the last 18 months and we continue to see a strong pipeline of quality opportunities. As a result, we hope to continue growing our level of investment into Northern Irish businesses over the coming months and years.”
Gemma Hamilton, an investor from BGF’s Northern Ireland team, will also join the board of Bob & Berts.