Drake & Morgan was founded in 2008 by the Imbiba Partnership, the specialist bar and restaurant investment partnership, and managing director Jillian MacLean, the highly regarded leisure entrepreneur who has over 20 years’ experience in the hospitality industry. The vision was to create an innovative new chain of bar-restaurants in London that combined a stylish, accessible and "female-friendly" environment with a unique all-day food and drink offering.
Since opening its first site, The Refinery, in Southwark in late 2008, the company has added The Parlour in Canary Wharf, and three sites in the City - The Anthologist, The Folly and The Drift. Two additional venues are due to open later his year - The Happenstance in St Paul’s and a new site in Holborn - and the management has identified a further eight sites for opening over the following two years. Over the longer-term, the company plans to roll-out the concept nationwide and believes there is potential for up to 70 units across the UK.
The "eating and drinking out" market has shown long-term growth over the past 20 years, and has proven resilient throughout the economic downturn, especially in London. Within this market, Drake & Morgan, which has won numerous industry awards, has performed particularly strongly - having grown sales at over 75% per annum over the past three years to their current level of £18 million.
Each of the company’s sites has its own unique design and identity, but shares the same innovative format and menu, and best-in-class service philosophy. All dishes use seasonal, locally sourced ingredients, and there are over 40 wines available by the glass, along with a range of imaginative cocktails, including "skinny" and "flaming", adorned with edible wild flowers. Other unique features include a mixology bar, a deli counter and master classes for customers in cocktail making, wine tasting and butchery.
Drake & Morgan’s sites are typically based in landmark locations, often on the ground floor of new office developments. The all-day trading format, along with the high quality of fit-out and service, are an attractive proposition for landlords, and the company has a strong pipeline of sites for development, particularly in central London.
Bowmark has committed further funds to support the roll-out strategy, alongside a debt package from RBS Financial Sponsors. Bowmark has a strong track record of backing successful roll-outs in the leisure industry, including previous investments in the Las Iguanas and Living Room restaurant and bar chains.
John Connell of Imbiba said: "This transaction is consistent with our ’buy, build and exit’ business model. Drake and Morgan has now completed its ’start-up stage’ following which the dynamics of the company will change and it is now time to hand over to new owners to move the company to a more mature level. This exit represents a truly excellent return for Imbiba Partnership shareholders and illustrates our consistent ability to deliver significant shareholder value. We have known Bowmark for a long time and have been impressed by their understanding and approach to the sector. I look forward to working with them during this transition period and seeing Drake & Morgan flourish over the coming years."
John Connell will continue in his role as chairman of Drake & Morgan post-transaction. He and his fellow Imbiba partners, Simon Wheeler and Mark Brumby, are retaining a minority stake, alongside Jillian MacLean and her management team.
Jillian MacLean commented: "We are very excited about the next phase of our growth strategy and, with Bowmark’s support and financial backing, we look forward to accelerating the roll-out of the company, both in central London and in other locations across the country."
Bowmark partner, Ron Pearson, said: "Drake & Morgan represents an appealing proposition for both customers and landlords, and is led by one the best management teams in the hospitality sector. We believe the business has significant potential for further growth, and look forward to working with Jillian and her team to scale the business."
Drake & Morgan
Bar and restaurant group Drake & Morgan has built its business through a successful roll-out strategy, expanding to 23 sites across the UK
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