Pod looks for private equity buyer to give boost to 'tired' estate

By Finn Scott-Delany

- Last updated on GMT

Pod looks for private equity buyer to give boost to 'tired' estate

Related tags: healthy food, QSR, Restaurant

Healthy breakfast and lunch restaurant brand Pod is looking to be sold to a private equity buyer, after announcing to shareholders it had appointed RSM to oversee a sales process.

The group's chief executive Alex Young says it is time for Pod to “catch up”, saying a sale was a natural step after a positive trading last year.

Young, who will stay on to oversee the process with RSM, says: “Pod has been around a while, and it’s clear we need to keep up and catch up. It’s a natural step. The time is right."

He admits that the 22-strong London-based group is in need of investment in order to grow, something which a private equity buyer could achieve. “We’ve got ourselves in a good position and we’ve traded really well over the last 24 months, but if we are to make great strides forward, we need some positive investment," he says.

“I’m extremely excited by it. It will be really good for the business and everyone here. The estate definitely needs investment. Anybody that works in London can see that.”

Pod has been unable to able to raise capital b itself despite a number of attempts, with the best option for all stakeholders to run a sales process to find new owners/investors to take the business forward, it says.

On preferences for a sale, Young says "a good private equity buyer” would be the ideal choice for Pod.

A full year report for 2018 reported a “dramatic turnaround” for the performance of Pod, following changes implemented by Young in the second half of 2017, which saw improvements to trading and profitability.

However, a challenging market, competitor expansion, and slowdown in consumer confidence was cited for impacting the second half of 2018.

The business achieved a £1.2m swing in EBITDA, delivering £0.4m.

Total sales of £17.4m were up from £17.2m in 2017, an increase of 0.9% with two fewer stores, and like for like growth of 4%.

Losses were £432,551 in 2018, from £1.73m in 2017.

In a letter to shareholders, chairman David Haimes said there was “significant development capital needed to get the business back on track as it continues to see a drop in sales”.

“This decision has been driven by a continuation of the negative sales trend we experienced in the final quarter of last year," he said. "Management believes this trend is caused by a combination of a very tired looking underinvested estate and a very tough trading environment and therefore they need significant development capital to get the business back on track."

 

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