Bowmark Capital Backs Drake & Morgan

UK-based mid-market private equity firm Bowmark Capital has backed the 30 million pounds ($45.6 million) management buyout and expansion financing of Drake & Morgan. Drake & Morgan is a London-based bar-restaurant group and was founded in 2008 by the Imbiba Partnership, a specialist bar and restaurant investment partnership.


Bowmark Capital, the mid-market private equity firm, is backing the £30 million management buy-out and expansion financing of Drake & Morgan, the fast growing London-based bar-restaurant group.

Drake & Morgan was founded in 2008 by the Imbiba Partnership, the specialist bar and restaurant investment partnership, and managing director Jillian MacLean, the highly regarded leisure entrepreneur who has over 20 years’ experience in the hospitality industry. The vision was to create an innovative new chain of bar-restaurants in London that combined a stylish, accessible and “female-friendly” environment with a unique all-day food and drink offering.

Since opening its first site, The Refinery, in Southwark in late 2008, the company has added The Parlour in Canary Wharf, and three sites in the City – The Anthologist, The Folly and The Drift. Two additional venues are due to open later his year – The Happenstance in St Paul’s and a new site in Holborn – and the management has identified a further eight sites for opening over the following two years. Over the longer-term, the company plans to roll-out the concept nationwide and believes there is potential for up to 70 units across the UK.

The “eating and drinking out” market has shown long-term growth over the past 20 years, and has proven resilient throughout the economic downturn, especially in London. Within this market, Drake & Morgan, which has won numerous industry awards, has performed particularly strongly – having grown sales at over 75% per annum over the past three years to their current level of £18 million.

Each of the company’s sites has its own unique design and identity, but shares the same innovative format and menu, and best-in-class service philosophy. All dishes use seasonal, locally sourced ingredients, and there are over 40 wines available by the glass, along with a range of imaginative cocktails, including “skinny” and “flaming”, adorned with edible wild flowers. Other unique features include a mixology bar, a deli counter and master classes for customers in cocktail making, wine tasting and butchery.

Drake & Morgan’s sites are typically based in landmark locations, often on the ground floor of new office developments. The all-day trading format, along with the high quality of fit-out and service, are an attractive proposition for landlords, and the company has a strong pipeline of sites for development, particularly in central London.

Bowmark has committed further funds to support the roll-out strategy, alongside a debt package from RBS Financial Sponsors. Bowmark has a strong track record of backing successful roll-outs in the leisure industry, including previous investments in the Las Iguanas and Living Room restaurant and bar chains.

John Connell of Imbiba said: “This transaction is consistent with our ‘buy, build and exit’ business model. Drake and Morgan has now completed its ‘start-up stage’ following which the dynamics of the company will change and it is now time to hand over to new owners to move the company to a more mature level. This exit represents a truly excellent return for Imbiba Partnership shareholders and illustrates our consistent ability to deliver significant shareholder value. We have known Bowmark for a long time and have been impressed by their understanding and approach to the sector. I look forward to working with them during this transition period and seeing Drake & Morgan flourish over the coming years.”

John Connell will continue in his role as chairman of Drake & Morgan post-transaction. He and his fellow Imbiba partners, Simon Wheeler and Mark Brumby, are retaining a minority stake, alongside Jillian MacLean and her management team.

Jillian MacLean commented: “We are very excited about the next phase of our growth strategy and, with Bowmark’s support and financial backing, we look forward to accelerating the roll-out of the company, both in central London and in other locations across the country.”

Bowmark partner, Ron Pearson, said: “Drake & Morgan represents an appealing proposition for both customers and landlords, and is led by one the best management teams in the hospitality sector. We believe the business has significant potential for further growth, and look forward to working with Jillian and her team to scale the business.”

Drake & Morgan and Imbiba were advised by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

For further information, please contact:

Bowmark Capital: Charles Ind on
020 7189 9000
Caroline Cecil Associates: Caroline Cecil on
020 7610 4110
Imbiba Partnership Simon Wheeler on
07929 089221
Drake & Morgan Rochelle Cohen on
020 7436 1111

For photos please contact Caroline Cecil on 020 7610 4110, or Rochelle Cohen on 020 7436 1111,

About Bowmark:
Bowmark Capital is a leading private equity firm specialising in smaller UK companies. Founded in 1997, Bowmark manages and advises funds totalling approximately £700 million on behalf of a blue chip investor base including public pension funds, insurance companies and banks from the UK, US and Continental Europe.

The Bowmark team has extensive experience of investing in growth companies run by experienced management teams, and has supported over 50 different businesses across a range of industries including business services, leisure, healthcare, media and IT services. Current investments include: Las Iguanas, the UK’s leading chain of Latin American restaurants; Leaders Lettings, the UK’s leading specialist lettings agency; CSL Dualcom, a leading UK security communications company; Healthcare Homes, a private pay residential elderly care provider; DATIX, a provider of patient safety and risk management software to the healthcare sector; and JAC Group, a leading provider of B2B travel services.

Exits include: Data Explorers, the leading supplier of securities lending data to the global financial industry; Education and Adventure Travel, the leading specialist educational travel services group; The Regard Partnership, a provider of care and residential services to people with a learning disability; Living Ventures, the operator of The Living Room bar and restaurant chain; Medscreen, Europe’s leading dedicated provider of drug and alcohol testing services; and RDF Media, a leading independent TV production company.

Bowmark Capital LLP is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

About Imbiba:

Over the last 12 years, Imbiba has created, nurtured and built EIS compliant start-up businesses in the bar and bar/restaurant sector. It has then exited the majority of its investments in a timely manner in order to crystallise value for shareholders. As a result, the Imbiba Partnership has achieved an average compound rate of return, for all realised and unrealised EIS projects, in excess of 35% per annum.

Caroline Cecil

Caroline Cecil Associates
30 Poplar Grove, London W6 7RE
T. +44 (0)20 7610 4110, F. +44 (0)20 7610 4111

Caroline Cecil Associates Ltd Registered in England no 5248175