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Spanish tapas restaurant chain receives £3m backing from BGF

BGF News 12.10.2012

BGF today announced its £3m investment of growth capital in Camino Leisure Holdings, a chain of authentic Spanish tapas bar-restaurants with three sites in central London.  BGF will take a minority stake in the business.

Camino reflects the life and soul and tastes of Spain, offering modern, authentic Spanish cuisine at its three restaurants in London’s King’s Cross, Canary Wharf and Monument.  A fourth site is due to open in Blackfriars in spring 2013.

The business was founded in 2007 by Richard Bigg and Nigel Foster who have worked together since opening their first bar in Shoreditch in 1995.  They have since gone on to open a series of successful bars across London and in Bristol, including: Cargo and Cantaloupe in Shoreditch; Market Place near Oxford Street; and the Big Chill chain of bars in Kings Cross, Brick Lane and Bristol.

Camino’s current Chairman, Mark Derry, is also a highly successful and experienced restaurateur in the dining sector, having previously built the 36- site Loch Fyne and 20-site Brasserie Blanc establishments.

BGF’s investment will fund Camino’s rollout plan, which will see the management team open a number of new London sites over the next three years, build brand awareness and create a basis for national expansion in the longer term.

Camino’s large restaurant sites are specifically designed to offer customers the dining and drinking culture of Spain, with an emphasis on social interaction and shared food.  It offers a high quality tapas menu, which is complemented by local Spanish wines and beers.  Camino has won several awards, including Observer Food Monthly Best Bar in Britain 2008 and was shortlisted for the Best Emerging Concept category at the Retailers Awards, voted by industry peers. Bar Pepito, the UK’s first dedicated sherry bar and also owned by Camino, was named Time Out Best Bar in Britain in its first year.

Camino’s current turnover reached £6m at year-end November 2012.  The business currently employees 125 people between its head office and three bar-restaurants.

BGF Investment Director, Alistair Brew, commented: “Camino is one of the strongest leisure concepts that we have seen. It’s responding to the current trend for social dining and stands out with its high level of Spanish authenticity.  We welcome what is a great opportunity to support an exceptional management team and chairman in taking their business forward.

“With the injection of additional funding, Camino will have the means to build on its already successful format, initially increasing its number of London restaurants and developing a wider UK footprint in the medium to long term.

“There is no doubt that that many UK businesses have been affected by a tightening in consumer spending, but that doesn’t mean that good companies can’t prosper.

“Camino demonstrates that strong growth is possible for businesses with good ideas, strong management and ambition. It is these businesses that BGF is looking to back; and with up to £2.5bn available we are in a position to help.”

Richard Bigg, co-founder and MD of Camino, commented: “Five years ago, we spotted an opportunity to offer Londoners a taste of the fantastic drinking and dining experience that works so well in Spain, offering the life and soul and tastes of Spain – authentic high quality food and drink at a reasonable price and in a relaxed environment.  With four restaurants in London by spring next year, we feel ready to take that experience to a wider UK market.

“Over the last seventeen years, Nigel and I have built a number of bar and restaurant businesses.  We’ve tried different ways of raising the finance to expand, including borrowing from the bank and selling businesses to release cash.  BGF offered us a different option and we’re looking forward to working with them to bring Camino to a greater audience in London and the UK.”

The UK’s premium casual dining market offers significant growth opportunities for successful concepts and is currently valued at £45bn.  Many businesses within the sector have achieved growth of more than 100% over the last three years.  The Spanish dining market is expected to grow at circa 10% per annum over the next 3-5 years.