Healthy fast-food operator Vital Ingredient plans to more than double in size, after securing investment of £2.75m.
The group, which currently runs 11 outlets in London's City and West End, intends to use the investment to grow to more than 20 sites in the next 12 months, hoping to create 150 jobs through the expansion. In addition to opening new stores, the company is also looking to establish a new central distribution unit.
Vital Ingredient, which is run by Alex Heynes and Paul Oberschneider, secured the finance package from Santander Corporate & Commercial's Breakthrough programme, which offered £1.25m, as well as through traditional lending.
A healthy alternative to traditional bread-based fast food, Vital Ingredient is focused on allowing customers to build their own meals from a selection of fresh ingredients. Diners can choose from seven different bases, 45 fresh ingredients and 10 dressings to create their own salad or opt for soups and ramens as well as ready-to-go salads, wraps, raw pots, snacks and homemade desserts.
Vital Ingredient was first launched by Heynes in 2001 and property entrepreneur Oberschneider later joined the business, which opened four stores at the end of 2012, and two more in January 2013.
Heynes, founder and managing director of, said: "We are really excited about this next stage of our development. Our continuous growth throughout the tough economic climate in recent years is testament to the resilience of our business strategy and offering, which provides busy professional Londoners with healthy eating alternatives that enable them to get good food fast.
"Trying to access finance that allows you to invest in your business is hard for a company of this size. Typically investors either want to take a slice of your company, or are only offering to new ventures. Santander's Breakthrough programme offers us a real alternative, allowing us to top-up what we could access through traditional bank finance with funding based on our future success."