Loungers secures £16m backing from Piper PE

Piper, a leading private equity specialist in consumer brands, has taken a significant minority stake in Loungers, the operators behind the highly successful Lounge café-bar chain.

Loungers was founded in 2002 by a trio of longstanding friends, Alex Reilley, Jake Bishop and Dave Reid who saw an opportunity to create a chain of informal, neighbourhood all day café-bars. There are now 20 Lounge locations in the UK, stretching from Plymouth to Birmingham. The business plans to open a further 50 outlets over the next three to five years.

Piper are investing £16m in Loungers, which is the largest single investment Piper have made to date. However, this is a sector that Piper know well – as the original founders of Pitcher and Piano and investors in other restaurant and bar brands such as Las Iguanas and Be At One, Piper have extensive experience of growing brands in this sector.

“We first met Piper some 4 years ago and have been impressed with their continued support and interest in our business over the intervening period. We see Piper as a great cultural fit for us and we very much like their desire to understand our brand and customers and the driving forces behind our success, as well as their obvious commitment to work with us as partners who can add significant value to our business. We are all now focused on scaling the business and ensuring we build an outstanding business and brand legend,” commented Loungers co-founder Alex Reilley.

Peter Kemp-Welch, of Piper, stated: “Loungers is an exceptional business with a highly driven and energetic management team that we are delighted to be backing. Its customers are incredibly loyal and love the casual, informal and slightly quirky style of the Lounges and the quality of what they offer”.

Loungers were advised on the deal by Matt Eves, partner at Isca Ventures. Matt added: “We are delighted to have worked with Loungers on their growth plans since 2009. Loungers has an outstanding management team which will be complimented by the skills of Piper. The transaction was delivered on a tight timetable and we would like to thank the advisers involved”

Other advisors involved were Burges Salmon (Loungers legals), Bond Pearce (Piper legals), Santander (bank), BDO (financial and tax due diligence) and Clark Holt (exiting sellers).

The Loungers transaction won the 2012 Insider Deal of the Year.

We needed an advisor who really understood the needs of the exiting shareholders, the potential investors and those of us staying on at Loungers, but could also ensure the transaction completed with minimum disruption to the business. There was only one choice for us and when the £16m investment was completed in five weeks from the signing of heads we knew we had made the right choice.

Alex Reilley - MD, Loungers