Shares in AIM debutant Various Eateries (VARE:AIM) traded 6% below the issue price of 73p on Friday on its first day of trading after issuing 34.2 million shares to raise a net £25 million, giving the company a £65 million market capitalisation.
With a leadership headed by Pizza Express and Punch Group founder Hugh Osmond and Cote Brasserie founder Andy Bassadone, it is not surprising the company was able to raise funds at a time when the restaurant sector is seeing one of its worst ever recessions.
But the terrible backdrop is exactly the reason that these veterans of the restaurant trade are so excited about the opportunities on offer. Restaurant capacity has fallen by around a fifth which means it is a buyer’s market with many more attractive sites available and importantly at more attractive rents.
In addition there are a number of sites which are effectively ready to move into, which reduces the conversion costs by up to a third, while attracting quality staff has never been easier.
Founder Hugh Osmond commented: ‘To many, this crisis is an existential threat; but it is also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a new, major leisure business, based on how people want to live now.’
COPPA CLUB, TAVOLINO
The company believes there is room to roll-out up to 50 Coppa Clubs which are a multi-use all day concept, combining restaurant, café, lounge, bar and work spaces under one roof, as well as bedrooms, event spaces, gym and spa facilities in certain flagship locations.
The second brand is Tavolino, which means small table and is designed be a neighbourhood Italian bar and restaurant with simple, high quality Italian dishes, using only the best ingredients from Italy and the UK and positioned at the premium end of the mid-market sector.
Having built-up Pizza Express coming out of the early 1990’s recession Osmond is hoping to repeat the success and build Various Eateries out of the current crisis.