LLOYDS Banking Group’s private equity arm said yesterday it has agreed to provide £20m for a new restaurant fund set up by the former boss of The Clapham House Group.
Paul Campbell is setting up the fund through his vehicle Hill Capital in partnership with LDC to invest in restaurant businesses with a small number of outlets but offering potential for significant expansion.
It expects to make initial investments of between £1m and £4m in each business, which could be based in London or outside of the capital.
Campbell, a well-known industry player, set up Hill Capital in 2010 after selling Gourmet Burger Kitchen owner Clapham House for £30.4m to Capricorn Ventures International, the owner of the peri-peri chicken chain Nando’s.
His investment and advisory firm also holds stakes in Hawksmoor, the upmarket steakhouse chain, and Tortilla burrito bars.
LDC is one of the UK’s most active mid-market investors. Its most recent investments include Compleat Food, a chilled meals maker, and its purchase of the Benson Group, which makes packaging for brands sold in Asda and Tesco.
“The restaurants and bar businesses are growth sectors for those with the imagination to provide fresh and novel concepts,” said Tim Farazmand, LCD London managing director.
“We are going to invest in some great companies over the next few years and are already looking closely at our first investments.”
PROFILE: PAUL CAMPBELL
AFTER more than two decades in the restaurant business, Paul Campbell – the former Pizza Express and Clapham House director – says he is as passionate about the sector as ever. “Even more so,” he tells City A.M., because he has been able to enjoy watching the industry “grow up”.
And that best describes what his investment and advisory firm Hill Capital encompasses: spotting young restaurant and bar businesses with potential and helping them grow up into thriving businesses.
Campbell is himself a trained accountant and qualified with PwC before moving into corporate finance and working for support services firm Capita Group. He then jumped over to the leisure industry and became chief executive of Relaxion, a gym and leisure business, which grew to over 100 centres across the UK.
In March 2002, David Page, chief executive of Pizza Express, hired Campbell as the group’s finance director. Following its sale in 2003 for £278m, Page and Campbell cooked up a new venture, The Clapham House Group, which was set up as a £15m Aim-listed shell to make acquisitions in the food sector. The group, which backed Gourmet Burger Kitchen, delivery firm Bombay Bicycle Club and the Real Greek, was sold in November 2010, prompting Campbell to set up Hill Capital that year.