Nicola Horlick's Rockpool Investments to fund Chicago Rib Shack restaurant expansion

By Peter Ruddick

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Chicago rib shack, Investment

Rockpool Investments, the company founded and chaired by so-called City 'superwoman' Nicola Horlick is to fund UK expansion of American restaurant Chicago Rib Shack
Rockpool Investments, the company founded and chaired by so-called City 'superwoman' Nicola Horlick is to fund UK expansion of American restaurant Chicago Rib Shack
Rockpool Investments, the company founded and chaired by so-called City 'superwoman' Nicola Horlick, is to invest £1.675m in the Chicago Rib Shack restaurant to fund its expansion into nine more shopping centres over the next three years.

The investment comes just over six months since Chicago Rib Shack sold its Knightsbridge restaurant to Buddha Bar,​ leaving it with just one eatery in the UK - a restaurant at Westfield Stratford City which opened in September last year with a 'stripped-down' concept. 

At the time of the sale, chief executive Christian Arden told BigHospitality he was hoping to open a small, replacement flagship restaurant, possibly in Covent Garden, and two sites at Westfield London and the Trinity shopping centre in Leeds.

Shopping centres

Rockpool is now expected to fund the shopping centre part of this expansion plan with Gary Robins, a partner at the investment firm, confirming the profitability of the shopping centre or food court model had driven the decision to invest.

"It is very unusual for a restaurant business to be profitable from its first day of trading, which shows just how successful Chicago Rib Shack’s relaunch as a food court restaurant has been.  Low set up costs, and a scalable operating model that is easy to replicate at other sites, mean strong growth is expected," he said.

It is thought the BBQ ribs restaurant, which was founded more than 30 years ago by high-profile American restaurateur Bob Payton, who was also behind Henry J Bean, will now plan to open in nine more shopping centres across the UK over the next three years.

Arden said the funding was a perfect opportunity for the Chicago Rib Shack brand as well as investors.

"It is great to have Rockpool Investments and their members behind us as we go through our first growth phase. Rockpool and its members provide a lot of valuable expertise, which makes them an ideal equity investor for us," he concluded.

Investment

Rockpool Investments will now aim to provide a 40 per cent return to its investors who are invited to put £25k into Chicago Rib Shack - a deal which Rockpool expects to exit after four years.

The investment is also compliant with the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) meaning there could be tax incentives for investors.

"Being a profitable business with excellent growth prospects makes Chicago Rib Shack just the kind of private equity investment that interests our investors," Robins added.

"Changes to the EIS regime that took effect in April, and which made the tax incentives even more attractive, have stimulated incredibly strong investor appetite for private equity investments with strong growth potential that are also EIS compliant."

Horlick, who originally founded the Rockpool network of investors, opened her own restaurant, Georgina's, in Barnes​ earlier this year.

Related topics: Business, People, Restaurants, Venues

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