Ceru, the fledgling Mediterranean/Middle Eastern concept from Barry Hilton, is raising c.£1m through the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) to roll the brand out initially across London before branching out to other towns and transport hubs, M&C Report has learnt.

Hilton, who runs the company with industry veteran Stephen Gee, is relocating the Fitzrovia restaurant from its temporary home at Rathbone Place where it has operated since November.

A new site is currently under offer with Ceru expecting to move into it by the end of April.

Hilton told M&C the group is interested in on a number of sites across London to open in West London, East London and adjacent to the river.

“We see ourselves as a west end or east end brand at the moment rather than going into the City at this stage.”

He highlighted Shoreditch, Hoxton, Bethnal Green, Soho and South Kensington as well as river adjacent locations as being of interest to find units of around 2,000sq ft.

The team will concentrate on establishing the permanent restaurant this year but is also looking ahead to expansion across the capital and into other parts of the country.

“There is no set size we want to grow it to. Stephen believes there are many dozens of towns in the UK that could work,” Hilton said. “We are quite clear and know we have a good concept on our hands and want to expand the business.”

The group is in early stage discussions to introduce the brand to travel and transport hubs as Hilton sees the style of food being well suited to eat on-the-go and for grazing.

Although the group is interested in securing sites Hilton added there is no pressure from investors to expand.

“One of the things with having done it many times before with Stephen is we know we are quite prepared and know what we will pay and we are only under pressure from ourselves to open.”

Ceru is in the process of raising around £1m through Enterprise Investment Scheme to continue the pipeline of openings. Hilton added after fundraising through EIS the company will consider further avenues including banks and private equity if it goes down a traditional rollout route.

“If we decide after three sits we have a real giant on our hands and want to expand much more aggressively then we might look towards private equity.”

“We’ve learned a lot being here and tried the full menu out, which we were quite anxious to see how it went, and showcased ourselves to the London market.”

Operating from the temporary restaurant site has improved Hilton and Gee’s position when approaching landlords.