The directors of the EIS have identified a gap in the market for places where people can eat out and buy fresh local produce. They have found that these markets are served by separate industry sectors. Locally produced food is found at quality supermarkets such as Waitrose, farm shops, and delicatessens, but any dining facilities they have are limited to tea room/cafes or to daytime dining.
The directors of the EIS believe there will be a market for their country food and dining concept because of increasing demand for healthy, locally sourced food and the rising popularity of eating out. They think the concept will have particular appeal to affluent over-50s who are more likely to appreciate less noisy out of town premises, and to health-conscious higher income families.
The directors will be looking for freehold or long leasehold premises that can be seen from A roads or major B roads. The sites will be at least 3 acres with the ability to extend to provide outdoor dining space for the summer months.
The directors include David Bruce, Gordon Leatherdale and Jonathan Shearme. Bruce is chief executive of the Capital Pub Company and has been involved in the leisure and brewing industry for over 40 years. Leatherdale has 13 years experience in leisure, management and finance, while Shearme has over 20 years experience in setting up and running out of town food retail and dining sites.
Last year the directors raised £2.3m through an EIS to buy Highclose Farm Shop near Hungerford. This was bought because it has a good location, the business has been established for 10 years and planning permission has been granted to extend the main building. In addition, a canal marina is being built nearby which could be helpful and there is no direct competition within a 30-mile radius. The directors also believe there is plenty of room for improvement and have identified ways in which the weaknesses of the business can be addressed.
Other sites that may be bought include garden centres, which have the space for development. Some may be off market opportunities generated through property agents such as Knight Frank.
However, there is no guarantee that suitable sites will be found and planning constraints may prevent suitable sites being developed as expected.