Founded by the owners of Living Ventures Group, the late Tim Bacon and Jeremy Roberts, in 2011, NWTC, which is led by Chris Hill, currently operates 14 pub restaurants under five sub-brands: The Botanist, The Oast House, Smugglers Cove, The Trading House and The Club House, across the UK.
The business, which currently employs more than 900 people across the country, from Glasgow to London, has opened seven sites in the past 15 months, with further openings lined up open in Sheffield, York and Reading for the coming months.
MCA understands that Graphite, which initiated the acquisition process with an off-market bid for NWTC, beat off competition from Livingbridge, the backer of Pho and Bistrot Pierre; and Bridgepoint Development Capital, to secure the business.
The principal vendors were Living Ventures, Hill Capital and LDC, which held a minority stake in the business. AlixPartners advised on the deal.
The management team, led by Hill, has reinvested alongside Graphite for a stake in the business. The sale generates a 6.1x money multiple and IRR of 80% for LDC.
Hill and his senior management team will continue to run the company, which previously had a three-year funding deal with Hill Capital Partners Food & Beverage Fund. 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.
Living Ventures co-founder and chief executive Roberts 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 has acquired a great business and, in Chris Hill, has secured the services of one of the brightest of our prodigies.”
Hill, who last year collected the Rising Star Award at Retailers’ Retailer, said: “We are delighted to be working with Graphite. Their partnership approach was attractive to us and their experience in supporting roll-outs in the pub and restaurant sector will be invaluable in the coming years. They share our vision for the future of the business and our enthusiasm for pushing out the traditional boundaries of the pub industry.”
Graphite partner Omar Kayat said: “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.”