Arc inspirations seals £14m growth funding package

Premium bar operator Arc Inspirations has concluded a new £14m banking agreement with HSBC. The new arrangement will replace existing debt facilities with Santander and includes a separate £5m facility to underpin the group’s expansion and growth.

The new agreement represents a ringing endorsement for both the Arc Inspirations business and the wider premium bar sector.

Tim Knockton, Chief Financial Officer, said, “We’re delighted to have successfully concluded this process – it is clearly a significant endorsement for Arc Inspirations and for the wider hospitality sector.

'From early in the process, we were extremely encouraged by the number of banks that showed interest in supporting the refinancing and are very pleased to be partnering with HSBC, who are long-term supporters of the sector.”

The £5m growth element of new banking facility will support investment in a number of new sites for Arc. The operator of leading bar concepts Banyan, BOX and Manahatta is actively looking to grow its footprint in prime locations in key cities, predominantly in the Midlands and the North.

The group unveiled two new flagship sites in the fourth quarter of 2021, opening a Manahatta premium cocktail bar in Temple Street Birmingham, followed by a BOX premium sports bar and lounge in Deansgate, Manchester. Further to these openings, the group has also already secured two new sites in key target cities, which it expects to open later this year.

The new banking partnership ends the group’s current relationship with Santander. Knockton added: “Santander have been supportive partners to our business for a number of years, including through an extraordinary period over the last two years. We’re very grateful for their support and wish them well.”

The new banking arrangements and latest property pipeline developments follow an encouraging period of trading for the group in the second half of 2021. From mid-July to mid-December, the group delivered sales up 42% versus the same trading period in 2019, prior to the pandemic.

The exceptionally strong return to trading, post-restrictions, included a record sales week in August for the group, when it achieved sales of more than £1m across its 18 venues, propelled by brunches, events and record pre-booked sales.

On the back of this very strong return to trading, Arc expects to produce a record performance in terms of both profit and sales for its full financial year to 31 March 2022.

Commenting, co-founder and CEO Martin Wolstencroft, said: “The business is in an excellent position to capitalise on forthcoming growth opportunities, and we are very pleased to be entering this partnership with HSBC. We’re delighted with our recent openings in Birmingham and Manchester, which are further testament to the strength of our people, operations and leading brands, and are excited about the opportunities we have in front of us.”