Camino, the tapas-based restaurant and bar chain led by Richard Bigg, has secured £3m of new investment from the Business Growth Fund (BGF) to grow towards a 10-strong estate in London by 2015.

The group, which counts Mark Derry, chief executive of Brasserie Blanc, as non-executive chairman, currently operates three sites in Kings Cross, Canary Wharf and Mincing Lane.

It will open its fourth site Camino San Pablo next April at the former Society Bar unit in Blackfriars Lane. The site, which comprises a 3,000sq ft ground floor and a 2,500sq ft basement, will operate as a restaurant during the day before becoming more bar orientated in the evening.

The chain, which launch in 2007, is believed to looking at a number of other sites in the capital and is understood to be in discussions on a further opening for 2013.

BGF, which was formed by five major banks in the wake of the credit crisis to invest in fast-growing small and medium businesses, has taken a minority stake in the company and will be represented on its board.

The fund has already made investments in Barburrito (£3.25m), Peyton & Byrne (£6.25m) and Wear Inns (£8m) this year.

Comment by M&C Report editor Mark Wingett
Camino has been described as one of London’s best kept eating and drinking-out secrets, but this new investment from the BGF is about to change that.

Plenty more consumers will get the opportunity to see why many appreciate the quality food and drink offer the chain delivers, a standard that has already been recognised by its peers who have nominated it for the Emerging Concept prize at the upcoming Retailers’ Retailer Awards.

A slow burn in terms of expansion so far, the new funding will allow it to pick up the pace of its growth strategy, but only slightly, as one of the group’s strengths has been its ability to pick off that “just-right” location and property that its dual offer demands.

Check out any one of its current three units to see that it has perfected the right balance of bar and restaurant offer without either taking anything away from the other.

Central London in the short-term is a natural fit for a concept that appeals to the majority of the capital’s ever-growing mix of consumers, but long-term there is no reason why the format couldn’t spread its wings to further major cities.

A word must also go to the BGF, especially when for many the fall back option is to criticise anything bank-related. The Camino investment takes its level of funding in the eating and drinking out market in under a year to over £20m, making it at present one of the sector’s main investors in up-and-coming concepts.

It now backs a fast-casual concept, a café chain, a restaurant and bar business, and a north east-based pub group. Not a bad spread and it is understood that more fledgling concepts are on its radar for the first half of next year.