MEATliquor, the popular, fast-casual concept, has launched a fundraising round with the aim of securing £7m of new funds to grow from six to 12 sites by the end of 2017, M&C Report understands.

The company, which is led by Scott Collins and Yianni Papoutsis, is to bring in new shareholders as part of plans to open five sites per year from 2018. It is thought that the fundraising values the company at c£20m.

It is thought that the group, which is chaired by David Page, doesn’t have or need any debt, but has decided to take the opportunity to raise further funding after being offered a number of investment opportunities.

The company will open in Bristol next spring, with a site in Islington set to follow later in the summer, while a further opening has been secured in Glasgow for 2018.

It is set to target key locations in and around London, plus opportunities in Birmingham, Cardiff, Bath, Nottingham, Belfast, Dublin, Cambridge and Oxford.

It believes that some cities will be able to sustain two sites, comprising its eponymous concept, plus either of its MEATmarket or CHICKENliquor formats. London will be the initial focus of the rollout of CHICKENliquor.

Comment by M&C Report editor Mark Wingett

You could argue that the above fundraising move by MEATliquor marks a significant step in the ever-growing influence of the street food phenomenon on the UK’s eating and drinking-out scene. The pin-up concept of the street food movement with its MEATeasy pop-up is now all set to be a national player.

The surprise is that Collins and Papoutsis have been able to hold back from making this move for so long, such has been the clamour to invest in their much copied but still a step ahead concept. Indeed, it is understood that one overseas investor offered the pair c£12m on the back of success of the first MEATliquor. There have also been requests to work with hoteliers and take the concept internationally. With all of its current sites continuing to be profitable, surely they won’t be short of takers this time around.

Arguably responsible for the burger renaissance that has taken place over the last few years, the concept is much more than that, a food, cocktail and music-led venue with a strong late-night trade. It has also, in the locations it has already taken, shown itself to be adaptable - able to take on off-pitch, low rent sites and make them work with low-cost fit outs- and will surely suit food courts, retail parks and transport hubs as it continues to evolve. A takeaway and delivery service, plus first book has also raised brand awareness.

The success of the group’s sites in Brighton and, more recently in Leeds, which also highlighted a further evolution of the format, plus the pragmatic and progressive nature of its founders, has given Collins and Papoutsis, who were awarded the Rising Star prize at this year’s Retailers’ Retailer awards, further confidence the brand can be a national proposition.

Led by a strong management team, progressive, a recognised brand (despite being only six-sites strong), scaleable and social media savvy. If you were building your identikit of the perfect modern brand, MEATliquor would not be too far away from fitting that role. The challenge now will be to keep all those in check, while the expansion plan is played out. It should certainly make a second book a worthwhile read.