Friska, the YFM Equity Partners-backed group, is to close its sole Birmingham site as it refocuses its growth plans on Manchester for 2018.
The company opened the site in Birmingham’s Brindley Place in February 2016 and had hoped to use it as a springboard for further openings in the city.
The group said: “Despite a great reputation as a breakfast and lunch time venue, Friska has struggled to establish itself in an area which seems to be more of a natural home to full service restaurant operators and bars like CAU, Wagamama & The Slug & Lettuce. This, coupled with a lack of a solid property pipeline within Birmingham, has forced the founders to close the site and refocus their energy on Manchester as their target cluster city for 2018.
Despite the difficult decision being made, the founders fully expect to be back in Birmingham in the not too distant future.
Co-founder Griff Holland said: “We cannot speak more highly of our team and the reputation they have built since opening. Making this call has been the toughest decision we’ve had to make and our main focus is on supporting the team while they look for new employment opportunities. Recruitment is always a challenge and I’d encourage any hospitality brands in Birmingham to get in touch with me personally if they are looking for great people to join their teams. Our Brindley Place team really would be an asset to any company within the hospitality sector.”
The company will open its second site in Manchester this March, in St Peter’s Square.
Holland told MCA he saw many synergies between the brand’s hometown of Bristol and Manchester, with the potential for five or six sites in the city – as well as potential sites in other northern towns and cities.
Last year, the healthy eating concept secured £3m of growth capital from YFM to fund its rollout. After making its debut in Manchester last September with a concession at the Bright Building, Friska has signed a deal on an 1800sq.ft unit at Two St Peter’s Square and will neighbour Wagamama.
Friska has also recently made two new appointments, with Pete Westmore, formerly of Deloitte, joining as finance director, and Jerome Ibanez coming in as head of operations.
The company operates nine sites overall, comprising a mixture of full sites and concessions mostly based in Bristol, as well as a site at Luton Airport.