Raising Finance

Leon to more than double number of restaurants with £19m OakNorth loan

3 min read

08 August 2016

Former deputy editor

Leon, the natural fast food business inspired by the Mediterranean, has secured a £19m loan from entrepreneur-facing bank OakNorth to grow its operation with 50 new jobs in the next four years, which will create 1,000 new jobs.

The first branch was opened in 2004 and as of now the firm has 37 locations across the UK, while the first was opened overseas in Amsterdam in July. The past two years really marked Leon’s rapid growth, as it doubled the number of restaurants over the period while increasing sales by 50 per cent.

To capitalise on the current momentum, Leon has secured a £19m loan from OakNorth. In the next four years, the company, which prides itself on creating fast food with a natural edge, expects to create 50 extra sites and 1,000 new jobs.

Leon co-founder and CEO John Vincent said the loan will help the business cater to demand, as customers have requested the brand’s presence in their towns and cities. He believes that consumer demand, alongside a dedicated workforce, makes for fertile territory.

“This significant amount of money makes it possible for us to achieve both these things, and takes us a step closer to achieving our aim of making it easy for everyone to eat and live well,” said Vincent.

“Leon set out to revolutionise fast food. Rishi and Joel at OakNorth are doing the same for banking. Antony, the Leon CFO, and I have found them incredibly good to deal with – they have a similarly positive, entrepreneurial, can-do attitude to business as we do at Leon.”

Read more from the food industry:

Leon has revealed one of the next destinations for a branch will be an additional opening in Amsterdam in February of next year. OakNorth, meanwhile, is pleased to have been involved and boasts £50m worth of UK deals to medium-sized businesses in the wake of Brexit. The terms of the Leon deal were not disclosed, but the loan will be paid back over six years.

Rishi Khosla, co-founder and chief executive of OakNorth Bank, added: “When we launched less than a year ago, we did so with the intention of shaking up the UK lending market and challenging the status quo.

“We wanted to offer the country’s entrepreneurs a banking experience that was dramatically different to that which my business partner and I had encountered as entrepreneurs trying to secure growth capital for our previous venture. We’re therefore delighted to be supporting Leon in its next phase of growth – an ambitious and entrepreneurial business.”

Leon’s health-based strategy come at a time when employers have been slammed by workers for directly contributing to obesity.