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Giggling Squid secures BGF funding boost

UK Thai restaurant group Giggling Squid is to accelerate its growth following a GBP6.4m investment from BGF (Business Growth Fund), a provider of growth capital to UK-based small and mid-sized businesses.

Giggling Squid, which has 13 sites across the South of England, will use the BGF funds to add further locations to its portfolio of successful restaurants. BGF has taken a minority equity stake in the business. BGF has also introduced Simon Kossoff, Chairman and former CEO of Carluccio’s, to the company. Kossoff has joined the board as non-executive Chairman and Jon Simon, Investor at BGF, has also joined the board.

Giggling Squid serves simple, fresh Thai cuisine at lunch and dinner and also offers takeaway services across its restaurants.

Headquartered in Guildford, the business is run by Andy and Pranee Laurillard. They opened the first Giggling Squid in Hove, followed by further restaurants in Brighton, Tunbridge Wells, Henley, Reigate and Stratford.  

Over the past two years the pace of growth has accelerated, with three openings in 2014 and a further four so far this year, in Bristol, Salisbury, Billericay and Guildford. New restaurants in Bury St Edmunds, Berkhamsted, Warwick and Esher are due to open soon.

Andy and Pranee’s background in marketing and brand strategy has helped them to drive the success of the Giggling Squid brand. Pranee started her career as an advertising creative at international creative agency Lintas. Andy started his career in 1996 at Unilever, before a short spell at Coca Cola and subsequently five years as head of brand strategy and innovation at TUI Travel.

Giggling Squid’s expansion to date has been funded through cashflow alongside debt from Barclays. BGF’s GBP6.4m investment will provide further capital to accelerate the growth plan across the South and nationally. The business employs around 300 staff across its thirteen sites and is expected to generate revenue in excess of GBP12m this year. A further 1,000 jobs nationally are expected to be created as a result of the company’s expansion over the next four years.

Laurillard says: “This is a really important step for Giggling Squid as we look to expand our brand across the country. We are now well funded and in a strong position for growth. This is a growing, dynamic company and it is an exciting time for Giggling Squid and for all of our employees. Thai cuisine is an underserved segment of the market and we have the opportunity to create a truly national brand providing great Thai food.  It’s a good time to be part of that story.”

Simon adds: “We first met Andy and Pranee in 2013 and were impressed with the quality of the offering and their vision for Giggling Squid. We kept in regular contact and keenly followed their progress. We are excited to now have the opportunity to invest in this established casual dining brand, with a strong track record of organic growth and a compelling expansion story. We look forward to working with Andy, Pranee and the rest of the Giggling Squid team.”

Will Baxter, Director Corporate Finance, Head of Restaurants & Bars at Grant Thornton, adds: "This deal sees the coming together of a hugely talented team at Giggling Squid and an investor which thoroughly understands the strength of the brand and the extent of the growth opportunity facing the business. I look forward to seeing the business go from strength to strength over the coming years and wish the founders, Andy and Pranee Laurillard, an exciting and rewarding journey with their new partners."

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