Private equity investor LDC originally invested £2.7m for a minority stake in NWTC in 2013 through the Hill Capital Food & Beverage Fund, which was set up to back early stage food and drink concepts.
NWTC was founded by the late Tim Bacon and Jeremy Roberts as part of the Living Ventures Group, opening its first outlet in 2011. It was spun out in 2013 as part of the transaction, with Living Ventures remaining a significant shareholder, alongside management and LDC and Hill Capital Partners LLP.
Today, the business operates 14 outlets nationally under five brands - The Botanist, The Oast House, Smugglers Cove, The Trading House and The Club House - and employs more than 900 people. Each concept offers traditional cask and craft beers, innovative cocktails, an all-day menu of homemade food including the celebrated ‘hanging kebab’ and live music.
The management team, led by Chief Executive Officer Chris Hill, has reinvested alongside Graphite Capital for a stake in the business.
The off-market sale, which generates a 6.1x money multiple and internal rate of return of 80 per cent for LDC.
Roberts, chief executive of Living Ventures, said: "It is particularly bitter sweet for me personally to be announcing this news today. Tim was extremely proud of the business model we have created at Living Ventures and this transaction was the last deal we were working on together. It is so sad that he is not here to share it with me. But I know he would be delighted with the achievement and I know he was pleased with the home that NWTC is going to. Graphite have acquired a great business and, in Chris Hill, have secured the services of one of the brightest of our prodigies."
Graphite Capital previously helped Japanese noodle chain Wagamama grow from two units to more than 100 around the world, generating a return of more than ten times its original investment on the sale of the business in 2005. It has also invested in Hawksmoor, which operates an upmarket steakhouse in the Spinningfields area of Manchester.
Omar Kayat, partner at Graphite Capital, added: "NWTC has rapidly established itself as one of the most innovative and respected pub and restaurant operators in the market. The company's multi-branded approach to all day-dining combined with live entertainment in the evening has been hugely successful nationwide. We look forward to helping Chris and his team in their continued expansion across the UK."
Jonathan Robinson, who led the deal for DWF, said “We are delighted to have worked with Chris Hill and his team on their investment alongside Graphite. NWTC operates some of the UK's most exciting brands within the bar and restaurant sector and with Graphite's support Chris and his team are ideally placed to continue the business’ expansion on a national scale.”
Andy Dodd and Mark Watts of Dow Schofield Watts Corporate Finance advised the management of NWTC on the deal.