A restaurant-meets-retail concept – designed to compete directly with Whole Foods Market and backed by some high-profile investors – is poised to acquire its first site in London. M&C Report understands that start-up Union Market is close to acquiring the TGI Friday’s site in Fulham, the first of up to 15 locations that will open under the Union Market name in the next five years. The concept, which will major on specialist food items and local and seasonal produce, is backed by Crispin Odey, the hedge fund manager behind Odey Asset Management, which manages funds of about £4bn. The food hall format will feature a butchery, bakery and café. The company has appointed Martyn Barett, the former head of Selfridges Food Hall, as retailer director, and Aylie Cooke, a former Whole Foods executive, as head of buying. The group, which is seeking outlets of about 8,000sq ft, is chaired by David Fletcher, the chairman of Odey Asset Management. Crispin Odey is thought to have invested about £1m in Union Market. Research undertaken by the company has reportedly identified about 100 potentially viable sites in the UK.

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