Gusto feasts on £9m to accelerate nationwide roll out
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Private equity backed Gusto Restaurants Limited has secured an additional £9m funding package from Santander to support its growth plans and target new sites across the UK.

Gusto is a fast growing restaurant brand that was formed by Living Ventures in 2005 and backed by Palatine Private Equity in a management buyout in 2014.

Gusto now operates 16 restaurants across the UK and employs over 600 staff. It recorded turnover of £23m in the year to March 2016 ‐ a 21 per cent increase on the previous year.

The Italian inspired restaurants offer fashionable décor and a range of cocktails paired with a classic and contemporary menu, using fresh, carefully selected, simple ingredients to offer a wide choice of premium Italian and European dishes.

The £9m development and working capital facilities from Santander will allow the Italian inspired brand to develop existing sites as well as targeting new suburban locations. Gusto most recently opened in West Bridgford, near Nottingham and has already identified sites in Yorkshire, the Midlands and the South.

Managing Director of Gusto, Sue Crimes, said: "We are thrilled to secure Santander backing and are very much looking forward to working with them in expanding our business and increasing our geographical presence across the UK. With the ongoing support from Palatine and a great Gusto team in place, we will continue to build our position as a national brand.
"We are grateful to Santander and Palatine for their shared vision in our ever growing business and their belief in our brand."

Gary Tipper, Managing Partner of Palatine Private Equity, added: "Since Palatine’s investment, the management team have done a great job of building and developing the brand and moving into new areas of the UK, and there is now a solid platform to grow the business further. This new facility allows the business to deliver Gusto’s strong site pipeline, and also puts the company in a great position to take advantage of additional site or portfolio opportunities that arise."

Santander Relationship Director, Ian Henry, commented: "Gusto is an established and popular brand, with a strong management team and great backers in Living Ventures and Palatine. Santander is delighted to be supporting the company in its next phase of growth."

Gusto was supported on the transaction by the Manchester office of Pinsent Masons (Tim Fearne) and Santander by the banking team at Addleshaw Goddard (Martin O’Shea). Gateleys (Richard Sealy) provided support to Beechbrook Capital.

Pokémon selling fast at Character World
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LEADING LICENSING BUSINESS, Character World is readying itself for a surge in sales of Pokémon textiles as the Pokémon Company continues to push new content across multiple platforms in 2017.

The Pokémon Company is kicking activity off with a number of new launches to celebrate Pokémon Day on February 27. The day has been given this name to celebrate the launch of the very first Pokémon games in Japan in 1996.

Character World sold out of its Pikachu duvet set in 24 hours last year when Pokémon hit the headlines with a new app release and the new marketing push from the Pokémon Company is set to spark a new spike in the popularity of Pokémon products.

The international textiles business produces a wide range of Pokémon textiles including single duvet sets, cushions, curtains, a bean bag and towel, all available to retailers and consumers across the UK and Europe.

Tim Kilby, brand director at Character World, said: "Any doubts that the Pokémon craze was just a short-term phenomenon have completely disappeared as Poké-mania sweeps over the UK and Europe, once again.

"Retailers who stock the Pokémon range can benefit from a fantastic long term opportunity, as the Pokémon Company continues to push new content including video games, trading cards and a TV series."

Character World distributes its products to major retailers across the UK, Eire, the Nordics, Benelux, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal and Italy.

Work is underway on new affordable housing in Wirksworth
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Work on 33 new affordable homes has begun on Derby Road in Wirksworth.

Leading developer Westleigh is redeveloping a disused former smallholding to provide a mix of one bedroom flats and two and three bedroom houses.

The housing is being provided through a partnership with Nottingham Community Housing Association (NCHA) and Derbyshire Dales District Council.

Westleigh is building the homes on behalf of NCHA, who will make them available to those in housing need, with affordable rent and shared ownership options to be available.

Gary Turner, Head of Partnerships and Investment at Westleigh, said: "We are pleased to be playing our part in providing these affordable homes for the benefit of the community in Wirksworth.

"These homes will go some way towards addressing the shortage of affordable housing locally.

"We are looking forward to working with outstanding partners in NCHA and the District Council and to making this project a success together."

Allan Fisher, NCHA’s Director of Development said: "Our ongoing partnership with Westleigh and Derbyshire Dales District Council has brought this new development to life. "Our Development and Pelham Architects teams are proud to work on a project transforming a former derelict site for the local area and provide more affordable homes for local residents to rent and buy."

Councillor Lewis Rose, OBE, Leader of the District Council, said: "Providing affordable housing that enables local people to continue to live in the place they call home remains a key priority for the District Council.

"We are delighted that this development is taking shape in Wirksworth along with others across the Dales that will deliver 63 affordable homes during 2017/18. "The development in Wirksworth represents nearly £4m of investment into the town."

Westleigh is part of the Homes and Communities Agency Delivery Partner Panel on both the Midlands and Northern lots and works closely together with housing associations to build affordable new homes throughout the East and West Midlands, Yorkshire and Cambridgeshire. For further information visit

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