Las Iguanas

Las Iguanas is the UK’s leading Latin American restaurant chain and was founded in 1991 by Eren Ali and Aj Jaya-Wickrema in Bristol.

They saw an opportunity to provide customers with a more exciting and unusual Latin American and TexMex menu.

Challenge

When Piper invested in 2002, Las Iguanas had successfully grown to four units in Bath, Bristol and Birmingham. However both Eren and Aj realised that in order to grow the business into the national chain they aspired to, a significant amount of investment would be required to grow and develop sites in prime locations and to build an appropriate management team around them to support such growth.

With the intention of taking on funding for a significant minority stake it was critical for Eren and Aj that their investors felt as strongly about their business as they did.

As Eren saw it, “They had a passion for our business – as entrepreneurs they picked up on how important that was to us and there was a lot of value in that”

Support

Whilst growing the estate fourfold, Piper was able to add value to Las Iguanas by:

  • Helping to build the team, introducing new professional managers to permit scale-up
  • Evolving the funding structure to support growth
  • Assisting with site selection
  • Clarifying the customer proposition
  • Identifying and developing relationships with potential strategic buyers

Don’t think of it as an investment of cash, think of it as an investment in you and your company. You get the experience of a bigger team that pushes you to reach your potential

Eren Ali, Founder & Managing Director, Las Iguanas

The journey

1991 The first Las Iguanas unit opens in Bristol
2002 Piper invests. Sales £3.7m. Unit EBITA £0.9m
2003 Brand proposition is clarified with visit to Brazil
2004 Piper introduced new Operations Director
2006 First Las Iguanas unit is opened in Central London at the South Bank Centre.
2007 Piper exits via a secondary buyout. Sales £10.3m. Unit EBITDA £1.9m

Current investments