Independent food & coffee shop chain Bob & Berts is investing in a further eight stores and creating over 175 new jobs.
With new funding facilities from Ulster Bank, and the continued support of its existing investor BGF, Bob & Berts plans include the opening of five new stores in Northern Ireland and three in Scotland.
Founded in Portstewart in 2013, the management team of Colin McClean and David Ferguson have quickly expanded the business to become a familiar addition to the local high street, operating 20 stores and employing 400 staff.
Bob & Berts expanded into the Scottish market in October 2018 following the opening of its first store in Falkirk. It has since opened outlets in Dunfermline and Dumfries with plans now in place to open three more in Stirling, Kirkcaldy and Ayr.
Last week, the business opened a new, larger store in Portstewart and will open its new Portrush store in the coming weeks. It has announced Cookstown, Newry and Ballymena as the next towns to get Bob & Berts coffee shops.
David Ferguson said that the new funding from Ulster Bank will allow Bob & Berts to continue its roll out in both Scotland and NI, as well as to seek opportunities in England over the next 12-18 months.
“We have identified an opportunity to go faster and open more sites than originally planned, and therefore sought additional investment through the banks for the first time. Selecting the correct bank that we felt understood our strategy and ethos was very important, just like during the equity fundraising process, and we felt that Ulster Bank can provide Bob and Berts with this support moving forward,” he said.
David said Bob & Berts stores are welcome additions in the towns they operate in.
“We’re passionate about the service we provide and the communities we serve. Our brand is dynamic and distinctive and we’re breathing new life the high streets up and down the country by driving footfall for the benefit of our neighbouring local retailers.”
Colin McClean said that rising demand is fuelling the company’s fast growth.
“We are very excited to announce the opening of our new stores in Northern Ireland and Scotland over the coming weeks and months. Our distinctive style and quality food and drink offering is driving significant demand and making Bob & Berts a highly sought-after addition to the local high street.”
The investment forms part of a wider growth strategy to operate 35 stores throughout the UK by 2020.
Gemma Jordan, Senior Relationship Manager, Commercial Banking NI at Ulster Bank said: “Ulster Bank is pleased to provide finance to Bob & Berts to extend its reach into new and growing markets.
“We look forward to working alongside the team at BGF, who, back in 2017, invested in Colin and David’s vision to grow the Bob & Berts brand and who have been an important part of their growth story in recent years.”
Girvan Gault, Commercial Banking Director at Ulster Bank, added: “We have access to a wide network of support and expertise through our relationship with sister brands NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland throughout the UK to help Colin and David realise the growth potential of their unique brand.
“Bob & Berts is a real homegrown success and we’re committed to supporting local operators in the agri-food and hospitality industries to scale their business at home and further afield.”
BGF, the UK and Ireland’s most active equity investor, made a £2m investment in Bob & Berts in 2017.