Independent coffee chain Bob & Berts is poised for significant growth with confirmation of a £2 million investment from the Business Growth Fund.
The business which currently operates 16 shops, is now also looking to Scotland and the Irish Republic as it aims to triple in size by 2021.
The Growth Fund investment will be used to support the company’s strategy which is set to create up to 600 new full and part-time jobs.
An established and independent company, the fund has £2.5bn to support a range of growing companies - early stage, growth stage and quoted - across every region and sector of the economy.
Bob & Berts was founded in Portstewart by Colin McClean, his father Arnold and brother-in-law David Ferguson who recognised the market opportunity to create a differentiated offering, with a focus on satisfying demand for quality coffee and fresh food.
“The business is growing quickly and we are ambitious to take the next step,” said Colin.
“We have successfully opened 10 new stores in the last two years and are looking to open a further 30 over the next four years.”
David Ferguson said they had aimed to create something different from their competitors from the outset.
“Our branding, food selection and interior design sets us apart from our competition and we believe that we have created an environment which encourages people to relax. All of our new cafes will be created with this culture in mind.”
The Growth Fund was set up in 2011 to provide a new type of funding option for small and mid-sized businesses, offering both an alternative and complementary source of money to bank debt. BGF is now a minority partner in more than 180 companies.
Bob & Berts is the third in the province alongside housebuilder Braidwater and waste management experts RiverRidge.
BGF makes long-term investments and holds non-controlling stakes in the companies it supports. As part of its investment, industry expert Mohan Mansigani will be joining the board of Bob & Berts as the company’s non-executive chair having held a number of senior management positions in the cafes and restaurant sector market and was instrumental in establishing the growth model for Costa Coffee in the UK.
“We are excited to begin working with Colin and David who, in a short period, have successfully developed a strong brand with significant growth potential,” said Patrick Graham, head of BGF’s Northern Ireland and central Scotland team.