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NVM acquires Vegetarian Express from Bridges Fund Management

NVM Private Equity has acquired Vegetarian Express, a UK distributor of plant-based ingredients to the foodservice sector, from sustainable and impact investor Bridges Fund Management. The investment will help fund the business’s expansion into Ireland, enhance its operational capabilities, support its customer base and strengthen its digital offering.

Vegetarian Express was founded in 1987 and is based in Watford. According to a press release, the company became one of the UK’s first foodservice businesses to achieve B Corp status in 2019.

Bridges, its previous owner, made its first investment in 2016, under its ‘Sustainable Planet’ investment theme. According to Bridges, the business now supplies over 1,200 products to a national customer base of over 3,000 chefs. During Bridges’s ownership, Vegetarian Express saw significant geographical diversification away from the Southeast of England and into new sectors such as education and hospitality, as well as the launch of its e-commerce platform “allowing the company to reach smaller independents and continue its brand growth”.

NVM’s £15m acquisition, led by Investment Director Alex Wilson and Investment Partner Mauro Biagioni, marks its eighth transaction in 12 months.

In a statement, Biagioni said: “The business is a true category specialist, with an excellent reputation for its extensive range of high-quality authentic products. ESG is at the heart of the business, and with new investment, a highly experienced management team and its reputation for outstanding customer service, Vegetarian Express is well positioned for considerable future growth.”

Emma Thorne, a Partner at Bridges, added: “We invested in Vegetarian Express because we believed there was a clear commercial and impact opportunity in helping consumers reduce their meat consumption by switching to plant-based meals. In Vegetarian Express, we identified a best-in-class provider with strong growth potential that also shared our values. The business has grown substantially over the course of our investment diversifying its offering, expanding its own-brand range and launching its unique Seedbank tool for chefs.”

NVM was advised by Womble Bond Dickinson, Food Strategy Associates, RSM, Continuum, AoN, Deloitte, Houlihan Lokey, Gateley Legal and Joelson.

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