Penta Capital exits as Lyceum Capital teams up with founders and management to buy Eat.

Mid-market growth investor Lyceum Capital is acquiring a controlling interest in EAT. The Real Food Company. The transaction will see Lyceum Capital invest alongside the founders and management to support a significant store roll-out and brand development programme.

Founded in 1996, EAT. has established itself as one of the leading brands in the £3 billion specialist food and coffee ‘to go’ market. It has 110 stores across the UK selling a wide range of soups, salads, sushi, panini, sandwiches, baked goods and coffee, which are freshly prepared in-house by EAT. each day.

The business’s strongly differentiated, quality-led brand and proposition ensured it performed robustly during the downturn with sales in the last twelve months topping £85 million, up from £68 million in 2008.

Lyceum Capital will now help the founders and management accelerate a store opening programme in the UK which could support well over 300 branches. The strategy will also develop the business and brand in the UK and internationally based on its leading product ranges.

Founders Faith and Niall MacArthur will retain a substantial shareholding along with other management and the deal will see Penta Capital sell its interests in the business. Lyceum Capital’s Simon Hitchcock and Phillip Buscombe will join the board of EAT. alongside Chairman John Herring.

Niall MacArthur, founder and Managing Director of EAT. said: “This deal marks the next major stage in EAT.’s development and will be the catalyst for an expansion programme that will see us extend our reach throughout the UK and continue to develop our successful brand proposition.

“Providing our customers every day with the innovative, high quality and great value products we are well-known for will remain at the core of this exciting growth strategy. We plan to invest further in our products, shops and great people to ensure we continue to build on our loyal customer base.”

Torquil Macnaughton of Penta Capital, said: “EAT has been an extremely successful investment for Penta and it has been a pleasure working with Niall, Faith and their team over the last five years.

“During our period of involvement the business has grown from 45 shops to well over 100 shops and we believe that it is well placed to continue this strong growth profile with its new partners. We wish the MacArthurs, the management team and Lyceum every success for the future.”