Piper has sold its stake in fast growing café-bar chain Loungers to Lion Capital in a transaction valuing the business at £137m.
Piper invested £16m in Loungers in April 2012 when the business comprised 20 Lounges and three Cosy Club sites across the UK. Over the past four years, the company has more than quadrupled the number of sites to 94, opening 20 sites a year since 2014 and creating employment for almost 2,000 people. The business is planning to open its 100th site by April 2017 and has a further 20 in the pipeline for the following year.
Loungers was founded in Bristol in 2002 by a trio of longstanding friends, Alex Reilley, Jake Bishop and Dave Reid, who saw an opportunity to create a new chain of informal, neighbourhood all-day café-bars. Their idea was to provide customers with a ‘third space’ between work and home to meet, chat, eat and drink – a more attractive and appealing alternative to the surrounding local pubs and coffee bars.
The team behind the brand will continue their involvement in its next stage of growth. Alex Reilley will stay on as Chairman of the group. Nick Collins, who joined as Finance Director in 2012 and became CEO in 2015, will continue to run the business together with Justin Carter who joined as COO in 2015. Jake Bishop will remain as Managing Director of Cosy Club.
Alex Reilley, Co-Founder of Loungers, said:‘The Piper team have been absolutely brilliant for Loungers and we’ve enjoyed a wonderful partnership with them over the last five years. Piper’s experience, support and expertise have proved invaluable in assisting the management team to rapidly grow the business while protecting and enhancing the special culture that exists within Loungers. It has been a real pleasure and a lot of fun sharing Loungers with Piper, who exit with the business in a truly excellent place. From these strong foundations we look forward to the next phase of growth with Lion Capital, who share our excitement and passion about the future and have the experience to help us continue fulfilling our potential.’
Chris Curry, of Piper, said:‘Loungers is an exceptional business with a highly driven and energetic management team. Its customers are incredibly loyal and love the casual, informal and slightly quirky style of the Lounges and Cosy Clubs, and the quality and value of what they offer. When we invested in the business, we believed Loungers had the potential to fill the gap between pubs and coffee shops and we are proud to have proven that to be the case. There remains enormous scope for growth, with over 500 sites identified in the UK for the Lounge brand alone.’