Arc Inspirations to accelerate expansion with £19m BGF investment

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Speeding up growth: BGF invests in Arc Inspirations
Speeding up growth: BGF invests in Arc Inspirations

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Bar operator Arc Inspirations is set to accelerate its growth after securing a £19m investment from growth capital investor BGF, for a minority stake in the Martin Wolstencroft-led business.

The announcement marks a new phase from the business, paving the way for a rollout of tis three premium brands Banyan Bar & Kitchen, Box and Manahatta.  

The investment will support the company’s ambition to double the business from its current 18 venues, delivering at least four new site openings per year across the next few years. 

Arc Inspirations chief executive Martin Wolstencroft said he was “absolutely delighted” to have secured the investment from BGF. “This funding will enable us to expand our business significantly, allowing us to take advantage of substantial market opportunities over the next few years, as we take our winning brands to more key cities across the UK,” he said.  

The deal marks the first time Arc Inspirations has introduced external investment to the group. Its expansion to date- since Wolstencroft and co-founder Chris Ure launched the business in 1999 - has been funded by the business and more recently through a renewed partnership with HSBC. 

New venue openings

Wolstencroft, Ure and managing director Anni Opong are still significant shareholders in the business. In addition, and as part of this process, non-executive director Steve Richards, Parkdean Resorts chief executive and UKHospitality chairman, will continue supporting the executive leadership team as non-executive chair. 

Arc Inspirations recently posted record annual sales, in excess of £40m, and last autumn opened two landmark venues in Birmingham (Manahatta) and Deansgate, Manchester (Box). 

The deal was led for BGF by head of BGF in Yorkshire and North East Barry Jackson and Rob Johnson. “Arc Inspirations is an ambitious business with proven concepts and sights set on expansion across the UK regions,” commented Jackson. 

He continued: “We have experience of successfully supporting similar businesses on this journey. Arc has already achieved an impressive scale and we look forward to working with Martin, Chris and the team to deliver against the plan to take the business to the next level.” 

Expansion plans

Arc Inspirations operates a cluster model, running premium large-scale bar sites in close proximity to each other, under complementary brands in key towns and cities in the Midlands and the North. It currently employs 1,000 people and its growth plans mean it will recruit a similar number again, over the next three-to-five years.  

Most recently it announced plans to open a new £2.5m Manahatta on Newcastle’s Collingwood Street on the site of a former Allied Irish Bank, creating almost 100 new jobs. It is the group’s second location in the city. It also operates a Banyan Bar & Kitchen on nearby Blackett Street which is expected to open in late 2022. 

Wolstencroft added: “This investment marks a new phase for our business and is a genuine landmark moment for us, in our 20-year-plus journey, from when Chris and I opened our first bar in Headingley, Leeds, to where we are now with a group of 18 leading businesses run by a team of outstanding operators. 

“It’s a brilliant outcome and the reason we have been able to do it is down to our people. The determination and effort they have poured into the business every day, especially in the past year, has been exceptional and we’re really excited about the future and what is possible.”  

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