The investment, for a minority stake in the Leeds-based business, will help Arc Inspirations in its aim to double its footprint over the next few years by opening multiple bar sites in major UK cities, deploying its ‘cluster’ strategy.
It will pave the way for an accelerated rollout of Arc’s Banyan Bar & Kitchen, BOX and Manahatta brands and will support its ambition to double the business from its current 18 venues, delivering at least four new site openings per year over the next three-to-five years.
The deal marks the first time Arc, which was launched by Martin Wolstencroft and co-founder Chris Ure in 1999, has sought external investment to the group. Expansion to date has been funded by the business and more recently through a renewed partnership with HSBC.
“We’re absolutely delighted to have secured this investment from BGF who are committed investors with a track record of supporting growth and success in the hospitality and leisure sector,” says Wolstencroft.
“This funding will enable us to expand our business significantly, allowing us to take advantage of substantial market opportunities over the next few years, as we take our winning brands to more key cities across the UK.”
Arc Inspirations operates a cluster model, running large-scale bar sites in close proximity to each other, under complementary brands in key towns and cities in the Midlands and the north of England. It currently employs 1,000 people and its growth plans mean it will recruit a similar number again, over the next three-to-five years.
Arc Inspirations recently posted record annual sales, in excess of £40m, and last autumn opened two new venues, in Birmingham (Manahatta) and Deansgate, Manchester (BOX).
It recently announced plans to open a new £2.5m Manahatta on Newcastle’s Collingwood Street on the site of a former Allied Irish Bank in late 2022.
“This investment marks a new phase for our business and is a genuine landmark moment for us, in our 20-year-plus journey, from when Chris and I opened our first bar in Headingley, Leeds, to where we are now with a group of 18 leading businesses run by a team of outstanding operators,” adds Wolstencroft.
“It’s a brilliant outcome and the reason we have been able to do it is down to our people. The determination and effort they have poured into the business every day, especially in the past year, has been exceptional and we’re really excited about the future and what is possible.”
Commenting on behalf of BGF, Barry Jackson, head of BGF in Yorkshire and North East, says: “Arc Inspirations is an ambitious business with proven concepts and sights set on expansion across the UK regions.
“We have experience of successfully supporting similar businesses on this journey. Arc has already achieved an impressive scale and we look forward to working with Martin, Chris and the team to deliver against the plan to take the business to the next level.”
Wolstencroft, Ure and managing director Anni Opong remain significant shareholders in the business. As part of the process, non-executive director Steve Richards, CEO of Parkdean Resorts and chairman of UKHospitality, will continue supporting the executive leadership team as non-executive chair.