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White Circle Organisation and Hummus Bros win significant investments
The Capital Fund backs two fast-growing foodie pioneers


The Capital Fund has announced major investments in two London-based catering entrepreneurs. Securing £250,000 from the Fund, White Circle Organisation, trading mainly as Couture, is rapidly developing a wide array of branded café, restaurant and food hall outlets in London and beyond. All focus on core British classic cuisine, using high quality, locally-sourced ingredients. Also securing substantial investment, Hummus Bros is a chain of smart fast food restaurants in London serving snacks and meals with hummus as a base.

Established in 2002, The Capital Fund is a £50 million venture capital fund that backs fast-growing small and medium-sized companies in the Greater London area, and is the largest of the nine UK regional venture capital funds.

Hummus Bros was set up in 2004 by two university friends who devised the concept of hummus-based convenience food. After an extensive period of testing product ideas and pricing brackets at various London markets, the first Hummus Bros outlet opened in London’s Wardour Street in August 2005. The menu is simple and focused, with dishes consisting of hummus as a base topped with hot or cold toppings such as mushrooms, chicken or guacamole, and accompanied by pitta bread.

Co-founder of Hummus Bros, Christian Mouysset, said: “Establishing restaurants where hummus could be served with imagination and flair was our ambition from day one. Our restaurants at Wardour Street, and now also at Southampton Row, are well placed for office workers, students and tourists. We offer a straightforward takeaway service, which is especially popular at lunchtime and during the day, but customers can also eat in at our restaurants with a waiter service. This proves more attractive in the evening.”

The company will use the new funds to open further outlets in London. Mouysset said: “We’re currently developing a site near St Paul’s, and hope to open a fourth restaurant before the end of the year. Because London is divided up into so many different villages, there’s the scope for us to open a number of outlets and still be a unique product in each neighbourhood. Further afield, we see university towns as potential new locations for future Hummus Bros restaurants.”

Commenting on the funding round process, Mouysset said: “The Capital Fund was able to provide the level of financing that we were looking for: more than perhaps we could have achieved from a bank, and less than many other sources of venture capital. We were able to maintain a great relationship with Benjamin Davis and the team at the Fund throughout the straightforward, if thorough, due diligence process.”

Hummus Bros uses only free range eggs in its product range, as well as locally sourced vegetables whenever possible. This approach is also a central feature of the White Circle Organisation’s approach to food.

White Circle’s Managing Director, Marc Warde, said: “These days everyone wants to know where the food they eat comes from. High profile campaigns from celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay mean that consumers are now much better informed and discerning when they’re eating out. Using ingredients from local artisan suppliers is very important to us - from within a 30 mile radius of our sites whenever possible.”

White Circle currently has eight outlets, operating under the Couture brand. “We’re developing Couture in three specific directions: Couture – The Arts, Couture – By Invitation and Couture – Food Halls,” Warde said. Couture – The Arts outlets include the new café-restaurant at Manchester Museum and catering and café facilities at The Public in West Bromwich. The food hall at the prestigious Royal Arsenal housing and office space development in south east London has been operated by Couture – Food Halls since opening in September 2007.

The success of Couture’s other ventures has led to the development of a third arm, Couture – By Invitation, consisting of staff restaurants. The first of these to be established is for a large international advertising agency based in London’s Canary Wharf. Warde said: “We provide a bar and restaurant where employees can come at lunchtime and also relax in the evening after work. In addition, there are private dining facilities for directors and their guests, as well as meeting areas.”

White Circle will use the new investment from The Capital Fund to develop new locations. “We expect to be operating at eleven sites by the end of the year, including the food and beverage facilities, branded as Phi, at Hotel Indigo, which is a new boutique hotel in Paddington, London, that is part of the Intercontinental group. The Capital Fund has joined us at a very exciting stage of the company’s development – and Helen Reynolds’s team was extremely helpful and easy to work with when we were putting the deal together,” Warde said.

Helen Reynolds, Investment Manager at The Capital Fund, said: “White Circle has developed a number of exciting business opportunities that we are very pleased to be able to support. The company’s success to date is testimony to the experience, hard work and dedication of a talented team.”

Referring to the Fund’s investment in Hummus Bros, Investment Manager, Benjamin Davis, said: “It’s always difficult to come up with an entirely new concept, in any sector, but that’s what Hummus Bros has managed. The fact that the company is offering something unique is a good indication of their future success.”

Coinciding with the investments from The Capital Fund, new non-executive directors are joining the boards of both companies: David Eades at Hummus Bros and Jonathan Doughty at White Circle Organisation. Both Eades and Doughty bring many years of relevant experience to their respective boards, and are well placed to ensure continued success.

- ENDS -
Editors Notes
Press enquiries to Margaret Henry, PR Consultant, The Capital Fund.
Tel: +44 (0) 1865 811199 Email: m.henry@oxin.co.uk

1. About The Capital Fund
Launched in 2002, The Capital Fund is a £50 million venture capital fund that backs fast-growing, small and medium-sized enterprises in Greater London. To date, the Fund has made over 60 investments in London-based companies.

Initial investments can be up to £330,000 and the Fund can invest a further £330,000 after six months or more. In some circumstances, alongside other new investors, the Fund can follow on its investments with up to £5 million in total in a single company. The Capital Fund is the largest of the nine Regional Venture Capital Funds and has a mixture of public and private sector investors. For further information: www.thecapitalfund.co.uk

The Capital Fund is managed by YFM Venture Finance Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority and part of the YFM Group. The YFM Group provides investment capital and business development services to SMEs throughout the UK. It currently has over £300 million in funds under management, with over 90 employees. For further information: www.yfmgroup.co.uk. Since April 2008, the YFM Group has been part of GLE Group: www.gle.co.uk

2. About White Circle Organisation
White Circle Organisation is a fresh food company that supports local and artisan suppliers, selling high-quality produce through a number of outlets in public buildings, residential developments, hotels and staff restaurants. Mostly branded as Couture, the range of outlets serve a number of sectors, but the commitment to quality and local produce is maintained.

Couture is developing staff restaurant outlets in the business and industry sector (Couture – By Invitation). Currently operating at the premises of a large multinational advertising agency at Canary Wharf, Couture doesn’t apply or tender for new concessions, but develops new outlets only when invited to do so by the client.

The company has a branded Couture food hall at the Royal Arsenal development in south east London (as part of the Couture – Food Halls division). The food hall promotes the best of UK produce, including brie from Somerset, lager from Greenwich, cured meats from Cumbria, bread baked in London, mineral water from north Wales and ice cream from Suffolk. Care is taken to ensure that only free-range chicken and eggs are sourced, and that all meat served has been reared and slaughtered in conditions of high animal welfare. Where possible, customers are informed of the farm of origin.

Couture also operates a number of bars and restaurants within arts centres and museums (Couture – The Arts). Again, at sites including the Manchester Museum and The Public in West Bromwich, the focus is on classic British food, working with local artisan suppliers whenever possible. White Circle has also won the contract to provide food and beverage at Hotel Indigo in Paddington, London, part of the Intercontinental Hotel Group. The hotel’s bar-café-restaurant, branded Phi, will be open to hotel guests and the general public from breakfast through to dinner.
For more information: www.whitecircleorganisation.com

3. About Hummus Bros
Hummus Bros operates the first restaurants in the UK where hummus is used as the base for the dishes served. Hummus is made from blended chickpeas, sesame tahini, lemon juice and garlic, and has been a staple part of diets in much of the Middle East for centuries. The food at Hummus Bros restaurants consists of hummus topped with hot or cold toppings and accompanied by pitta bread. The menus are available as take-away or eat in, throughout the day and into the evening.

The concept was developed by two friends, Christian Mouysset and Ronen Givon, when as Cambridge University students they came across a specialist delicatessen selling just pitta bread, hummus and olive oil. Both founders remain closely involved in the business. Initially, the concepts and menu ideas were tested at several local markets in London before a kitchen and then the first restaurant were opened in July-August 2005.

With two London restaurants now open, in Wardour Street and Southhampton Row, Hummus Bros plans to expand with outlets across the city. For more information: www.hbros.co.uk


Publisher Contact Information:

The Capital Fund
+ 44 (0)1865 811199
m.henry@oxin.co.uk

Company profile of The Capital Fund
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