Emerging Capital Partners (ECP), the pan-African private equity specialist, announced on 28 May that it invested in Nairobi Java House, Kenya’s leading café and casual dining restaurant operator. The news marks the first private equity deal in the restaurant sector in East Africa, and ECP’s second investment in the East Africa region from its latest fund, ECP Africa Fund III. In conjunction with this investment, ECP announced it will be opening a new office in Nairobi, Kenya.
Nairobi Java House launched operations in 1999 and has since expanded across Nairobi, serving African-grown coffee alongside a full menu of international cuisine. “Nairobi’s affluent and middle class have both embraced Nairobi Java House as a high-quality, affordable restaurant destination,” the company noted in a statement. “By day, it is frequented by business professionals for a quick snack or a meeting over breakfast, coffee, or lunch; by night and at weekends, the crowd returns with friends and family for socializing and casual dining in the unique family-friendly ambiance.” In addition to the casual dining restaurant brand, the company has also launched Planet Yogurt, the first self-serve frozen yogurt brand in Africa, now with four outlets in Nairobi.
Terms of the transaction were not disclosed; however ECP’s capital will be used to expand the Nairobi Java House operations and the number of locations around Kenya and the broader region, the company noted.
“Quality and professionalism are deep-rooted in the Nairobi Java House culture and we are delighted that this has been recognized on a global stage,” said Kevin Ashley, CEO at Nairobi Java House in a statement. “The facts of our success speak for themselves: sales have grown consistently as we have increased our number of outlets to 18 locations across Nairobi, with new branches slated to open in Mombasa, Nakuru and Kisumu in the coming year. We look forward to the next stage of growth, supported by market leading private equity firm ECP.”
Bryce Fort, a Managing Director at ECP, added: “Nairobi Java House enjoys an attractive positioning as both aspirational and yet obtainable by East Africa’s rapidly expanding consumer middle class and, as such, it sits perfectly with ECP’s investment thesis. We seek to back proven global business models that are being pursued across Africa and deployed to international standards. Nairobi Java House is a prime example of the success of the fast casual dining restaurant model and a reaffirmation of the growth to be found in East Africa – a growth market that we are supporting in the opening of our new office location in Nairobi. We look forward to working alongside the management team as it launches new outlets across the region, as well as continuing to support our existing portfolio companies across East Africa.”
The statement noted that Emerging Capital Partners has been investing across the African continent for 12 years. The firm has made over 50 investments and has accomplished more than 20 exits in a range of sectors, including financial services, telecoms, consumer products, agribusiness, logistics, industrials, and natural resources. In East Africa, ECP also currently holds investments in Wananchi Group, Kenya’s first triple play cable company and Spencon, a civil engineering and construction company established in 1979. Previous investments in the region include: Celtel International and PanAfrican Energy.