PE Tech Report


Like this article?

Sign up to our free newsletter

Lyceum Capital shows appetite for EAT

Mid-market growth investor Lyceum Capital is acquiring a controlling interest in EAT The Real Food Company. The transaction will see Lyceum Capital invest alongside the founders and management to support a significant store roll-out and brand development programme.

Founded in 1996, EAT has established itself as one of the leading brands in the GBP3 billion specialist food and coffee ‘to go’ market. It has 110 stores across the UK selling a wide range of soups, salads, sushi, panini, sandwiches, baked goods and coffee, which are freshly prepared in-house by EAT each day.
The business’s strongly differentiated, quality-led brand and proposition ensured it performed robustly during the downturn with sales in the last twelve months topping GBP85 million, up from GBP68 million in 2008. 
Lyceum Capital will now help the founders and management accelerate a store opening programme in the UK which could support well over 300 branches.  The strategy will also develop the business and brand in the UK and internationally based on its leading product ranges.
Founders Faith and Niall MacArthur will retain a substantial shareholding along with other management and the deal will see Penta Capital sell its interests in the business. Lyceum Capital’s Simon Hitchcock and Phillip Buscombe will join the board of EAT alongside Chairman John Herring.
Niall MacArthur, founder and Managing Director of EAT, says: “This deal marks the next major stage in EAT’s development and will be the catalyst for an expansion programme that will see us extend our reach throughout the UK and continue to develop our successful brand proposition.
“Providing our customers every day with the innovative, high quality and great value products we are well-known for will remain at the core of this exciting growth strategy. We plan to invest further in our products, shops and great people to ensure we continue to build on our loyal customer base.”
Philip Buscombe (pictured), Chairman of Lyceum Capital, says: “EAT has performed really well over the last two years by continuing to offer great products, exceptional service and good value, whilst demonstrating its underlying strength through the loyalty of its customers.
“With its established presence and its leading product ranges, EAT is ideally positioned to capitalise on the gradual recovery in consumer confidence, particularly in London, and the continuing shift to branded eating out or food-to-go in the sub-£10 meal sector. EAT also plans to build on its successful presence in major cities around the UK and in international travel locations.”
Niall MacArthur adds: “We are delighted to partner with Lyceum and we’ve secured the backing of a dynamic investor with a proven ability to execute successful roll-out strategies and a team that has a strong track record of building value in the consumer and business services markets in both the UK and internationally. This is a bold deal and shows confidence in the growth of the business and the UK economy, where we will create 1,500 jobs in the next few years as we double in size.”

Like this article? Sign up to our free newsletter