OakNorth lends £20m to Brasserie Blanc


Ben Barbanel

OakNorth – the bank that is democratising non-standard lending – has completed a £20m loan to Brasserie Bar Co Ltd, which has 35 sites across two brands: Brasserie Blanc – the French brasserie business inspired by Raymond Blanc – and The White Brasserie Company – a quality pub dining business taking the cuisine of Brasserie Blanc into traditional pub settings.

Brasserie Blanc’s premium casual dining concept was originally developed by Michelin-starred chef Raymond Blanc, and operates 20 sites across the UK. The White Brasserie Company was established in 2010 and has seven sites in Surrey, four in London, and additional sites in Hertfordshire, Cheshire, Essex and Buckinghamshire (15 in total). The group will use the finance from OakNorth to open 24 new sites by 2022 taking the total estate to 59.

To date, the group has been backed by equity investment from private equity firm, Core Capital Partners LLP, and debt provided by ESO Capital in 2014, which enabled it to rebrand and refurbish the Brasserie Blanc restaurants, and expand the White Brasserie brand. The rebrand has proven to be an effective move for the business – its most recent accounts revealed an increase in turnover from £37m to £41m in 2016, with market-leading like-for-like growth in the Brasserie Blanc estate. Earlier this year, the group announced plans to open restaurants in hotels with the first one having opened this month at the Bournemouth Highcliff Marriott Hotel.

Commenting on the deal, Mark Derry, CEO of Brasserie Bar Co Ltd, said:

“We have ambitious plans for both brands. Brasserie Blanc is well positioned to capitalise on the increased interest and footfall resulting from the refurbishment of the estate and The White Brasserie pubs have gone from three to 14 in the last four years with a menu, service ethos and ambience that is really hitting the mark with guests.”

“OakNorth was able to provide us with the right financing structure and flexibility to support our mid-term roll out strategy. With this new finance in place, we will be able to open 24 new sites in the next five years, growing our team and presence in the market.”

Since its launch in September 2015, OakNorth has grown its loan book to over £600m, completing a number of high-profile deals, including: a £19m loan to LEON last year which enabled the business to open a further 50 sites and hire 1,000 new staff; a £14.4m loan to Frogmore for the development of a new boutique hotel in Southwark; a £5.3m loan to Longshot Country Inns to open several new Bel & The Dragon Inns; and a £21m loan for the development of Hotel L’Oscar in Holborn.

Ben Barbanel, pictured, Head of Debt Finance at OakNorth Bank, commented:

“Since our launch, we have been focused on one thing – solving the problem of scaling non-standard lending in the UK, backing quality management teams in the process. Brasserie Bar Co. is an ambitious and entrepreneurial business which, despite uncertain market conditions, has continued to expand every year since inception, even during the recession. The business is celebrating its 21st anniversary this year, yet has managed to stay fresh in an increasingly competitive market by expanding its offering into new formats and settings, and rebranding at the opportune time.

Deepesh Thakrar, Debt Finance Director at OakNorth continued:

“It’s great to have been selected despite competition from several larger lenders and we look forward to watching Brasserie Bar Co’s progress over the coming years.”