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Bridgepoint in the News

21 June 2021

Bridgepoint invests in Itsu

Asian-inspired food brand itsu has signed a significant deal with international alternative asset group, Bridgepoint.

In response to increasing demand for healthier eating, the new partnership between itsu and Bridgepoint secures tremendous growth for the restaurant group, including 100 new outlets, creating 2,000 new jobs in the U.K. alone within the next 5 years.

itsu‘s founder Julian Metcalfe said: "We are thrilled to be teaming up with Bridgepoint again after our success together at Pret a Manger during the dynamic 2008-2018 era.

We’ve spent months in lockdown working with them to ensure itsu will be well-funded for long-term growth. Never before has enjoying healthy, nutritious food been so uppermost in customers minds. This is what itsu does beautifully for about £7 per head."

Metcalfe confirmed that Bridgepoint has just signed a deal for them to take a meaningful minority stake in the group, as well as providing substantial investment to open up to 100 new sites. These new sites are in addition to the deal itsu has recently done with Pizza Hut and other major franchise operators in the U.K., France, and Belgium. Meanwhile, itsu's grocery business is enjoying 70% growth in sales of its Asian-inspired foods across the U.K. supermarkets and health food shops. Total sales for the group in 2022 are forecast to be well in excess of £170 million.

Regarding the pandemic, Metcalfe said: “Our teams have been so incredibly brave, determined and positive; meanwhile our customers have been patient and amazingly loyal; we are slowly getting back to pre-pandemic customer visits. Outside London, we are already busier than before. It is so evident that customers value nutritious, fresh food more than ever. Very shortly we hope to re-open the remaining centrally located stores that have been closed since last September.

The pandemic has caused chaos and so much suffering in our industry on top of the looming challenge of a severe shortage of young European chefs and huge food inflation. The truth is, despite these difficulties itsu's modern menu is keeping us busy and buoyant. It's an unexpected and very exciting time for us.

Benoit Alteirac, partner of Bridgepoint confirmed they were delighted to be partnering up again with Julian and the itsu team. He said: "We see a global opportunity for itsu. Their standout offer is an exciting and contemporary attitude to healthy and nutritious food with nearly 40% of it being plant-based. Itsu combines affordable, convenient, and fresh food with an outstanding operational model coupled with deep-rooted brand values. We recognize their time is now and their ambition, goals and purpose are so relevant in this post pandemic era."

itsu is currently building new restaurants in Reading, St Albans, Holborn as well as Belgium and plans to roll out its digital kiosks across all sites to complement its sushi robots and customer loyalty app.

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