Bob & Berts expansion creates eight new stores and 175 jobs
A popular cafe chain has created over 175 jobs after opening eight new stores across Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Bob & Berts, which was founded in Portstewart in 2013, received new financial support from the Ulster Bank and its private equity investor BGF to embark on opening five new cafes here and three in Scotland.
Run by Colin McClean and David Ferguson, Bob & Berts now has 20 stores with more than 400 staff members.
This recent growth sees it further mark its territory in the Scottish market where it first opened last year in Falkirk.
It has since opened outlets in Dunfermline and Dumfries with plans now in place to open three more in Stirling, Kirkcaldy and Ayr.
The new Northern Ireland stores will be in Portrush, Cookstown, Newry and Ballymena, while the Portstewart branch has been expanded.
David Ferguson said that the new funding from Ulster Bank will allow Bob & Berts to continue its roll out in both Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as to seek opportunities in England over the next 12-18 months.
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"We have identified an opportunity to go faster and open more sites than originally planned, and therefore sought additional investment through the banks for the first time," he said.
"Selecting the correct bank that we felt understood our strategy and ethos was very important, just like during the equity fundraising process, and we felt that Ulster Bank can provide Bob & Berts with this support moving forward.
"We're passionate about the service we provide and the communities we serve.
"Our brand is dynamic and distinctive and we're breathing new life into the high streets up and down the country by driving footfall for the benefit of our neighbouring local retailers."
The growth forms part of a wider growth strategy to operate 35 stores throughout the UK by 2020.
Gemma Jordan, senior relationship manager, commercial banking NI at Ulster Bank, said: "We look forward to working alongside the team at BGF, who, back in 2017, invested in Colin and David's vision to grow the Bob & Berts brand and who have been an important part of their growth story in recent years."
Bob and Berts' recent investment follows on from Ground Espresso Bar's announcement two weeks ago that it will invest in a £3m expansion plan that will see it operate in England and Scotland for the first time.
Ground Espresso Bars, which first opened in Coleraine almost two decades ago, has agreed a deal with Next plc to open eight units at former Patisserie Valerie outlets in the clothing giant's premises.
The units in London, Manchester and Cheltenham stores are due to open at the end of this month.