Bridgepoint Development Capital invests in French fast food chain

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Bridgepoint Development Capital (BDC) is to acquire with management Mezzo di Pasta, the leading pasta fast food chain in France, for an undisclosed sum.

Founded in 2002 in Strasbourg, Mezzo di Pasta currently has 126 outlets (121 in France and five franchises overseas), having grown rapidly in the last five years, opening on average 24 new outlets per annum.

Approximately 80% of the outlets in France are franchised with the balance being owned by the company. They are located principally in town centres and more recently in shopping malls. The company also operates concessions in locations such as exhibition centres, service stations (first opening in July 2011) and is exploring opportunities in the workplace. It serves a range of pastas and sauces, cooked to order, as well as salads and desserts.

The Mezzo di Pasta concept is also being developed internationally through franchises in countries like Mexico, Switzerland and Spain with further territories to follow. The company also expects over time to extend its direct international reach, with Germany slated for a test franchise in the summer.

BDC, which focuses on investments in the lower middle market, will become a majority shareholder in the business, allowing the company to accelerate openings in France, particularly in primary locations with more prominent footfall to increase brand visibility. As part of the transaction it will acquire the shareholding of Arts et Biens, headed by Adrien Levy, which took a minority stake in the business in 2009 during its early stages in development.

Pierre Colasson, a partner at Bridgepoint Development Capital, in Paris, said: “The company has grown significantly in the last two years and thanks to its founders it is now the undisputed leader in its space and operates a concept that is unique in Europe.

“We fully expect them to double outlets in France, not just as a result of the funds we will make available to them to accelerate openings of owned stores, but also because of the franchise model they operate. Bridgepoint, with its pan-European presence and unique insight into the mid-market, will enable it to realise its international ambitions. Additional key appointments to the team are under way to assist with their plans.”

President and co-founder of Mezzo di Pasta Emmanuel Guth, said: “Over the past 10 years, we have all worked to ensure pasta fast food is available in many cities around the country thanks to an absolute focus on quality in our food and our development plans. As market leader, we sense that the market has yet to deliver its full potential, but to achieve our ambitions we now require additional funding. With Bridgepoint as our majority shareholder, new opportunities will now be available to us.”