OakNorth, the digital bank for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs, has provided a £15m loan to creative cocktail bar and restaurant group, The Alchemist, to support the roll-out of new sites and refinance existing debt.
Founded in Manchester in 2010, the group has successfully scaled to 23 sites across 12 major cities, including six in London, three in Manchester, and three across Scotland, in addition to opening its first overseas site in Berlin last year.
With its London Victoria site opening in February 2024, the business’ reputation for mastering the dark arts and “molecular mixology” has won it numerous industry awards, including most recently, ‘Best Drinks Offer’ at the 2023 Publicans Awards.
The business has been backed by leading private equity firm, Palatine, since 2015, which focusses on investing in mid-market businesses through its Buyout and Impact Funds. Headquartered in Manchester and with offices in London and Birmingham, Palatine has built strong relationships with entrepreneurs across various industries, such as consumer and leisure, financial services, health and education, and technology.
Simon Potts, CEO of The Alchemist, said, “Despite the well-known challenges facing the hospitality sector, we take pride in our unwavering commitment of growing our brand across the UK.
“Looking ahead, we have ambitions to roll-out 10 new sites over the next three years, with the funding from OakNorth being a key catalyst for this.
“This was our first-time working closely with OakNorth after being aware of its reputation for backing experienced and innovative bar and restaurant operators. Stewart and his team lived up to this reputation, providing a level of flexibility and transparency that was simply not offered by other lenders.
“With this capital, we will be able to open additional sites and continue bringing our unique cocktail bar and restaurants to more areas of the UK and overseas.”
Stewart Haworth, Director of Debt Finance at OakNorth, added, “The Alchemist is a perfect example of the creativity that’s currently on offer by the UK’s top bar and restaurant operators.
“The group has built-up a highly impressive reputation, with the management team delivering an experiential and theatrical food and drink offer across all day parts, in an array of locations, as they plotted their expansion here in the UK and abroad.
“With the pub and bar industry set for significant growth over the next five years, driven by a rising demand for craft spirits, the group is in a prime position to capitalise on this, and we look forward to visiting the new sites in the future.”