The Chilli Pickle, the acclaimed contemporary Indian restaurant based in Brighton, is seeking £700,000 of equity investment to fund the rollout of four additional sites.

Led by husband and wife team Alun and Dawn Sperring, they plan to open four 80-120 cover restaurants in affluent South East market towns within c50 miles of Brighton over the next three years.

In preparation for the expansion programme, the group has recruited Nimit Thakar, formerly of L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, as financial controller.

Meanwhile Kevin Bacon, former managing director of Jamie Oliver International, board director of The Restaurant Group PLC and co-founder of Frankie and Benny’s, will join the board as non-executive chairman.

The first new site due to open in June or July will be a new-build unit in the centre of a market town, with the 95 cover restaurant costing c£700k, with c40% to be funded by the landlord. 

The group is considering Tunbridge Wells, Worthing, Winchester, Hastings and Oxford as possible locations for the additional three new sites, which are forecast to open in June 2018, June 2019 and January 2020.

The Brighton hub will act as an academy for new managers and chefs.

The Chilli Pickle is also going into Deliveroo’s delivery-only ‘Roobox’ kitchen in Hove, which could be operational in the next two or three months.

Alun Sperring, chief exective and executive chef, said: “Dawn and I have been working on this for a long time. We’ve had a lot of conversations with investors but they wanted too much of the business and wanted us to grow very quickly.

“This deal gives us control and we don’t need to dilute what we do. It’s not crowdfunding, rather a handful of bigger investors that all bring different things to the mix.”

The investment campaign, which is being raised via platform Growthdeck, is available in units of £1,000 – each unit buys 0.034% of the fully diluted equity on a pre-money capitalisation of £2.2m.

Investors will subscribe for ‘A’ ordinary shares, which are voting shares. The founders and earlier investors hold ordinary shares.

On an exit, the amounts subscribed for ordinary and ‘A’ ordinary shares will be returned to holders prior to the distribution of any exit proceeds to equity holders.

This means that if the company is sold for only c£833k, all shareholders would recover the full cost of their investment.

The investment qualifies for the EIS tax reliefs, including 30% initial income tax relief and tax-free gains on exit so long as the shares are held for at least three years.

Based on the exit assumptions in 2021, the investment offers the prospect of a 5.3x money return – increasing to 7.6x after EIS income tax relief.