The Abraaj Group to acquire Java House from ECP
The Abraaj Group (“Abraaj” or the “Group”), a leading investor operating in growth markets, has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase, through its Funds, 100 per cent of Java House Group (“Java House” or the “Company”), East Africa’s leading coffee-led casual dining chain, from private equity firm Emerging Capital Partners (ECP), and the Company’s founder and chairman, Kevin Ashley.
Java House Group was established in Nairobi in 1999. In 2012, Emerging Capital Partners acquired a majority stake in the Company, with the founder retaining a minority stake. ECP has helped Java House grow from 13 shops in Nairobi into East Africa’s largest casual dining brand, building an ‘eat-out’ culture.
“This landmark transaction, which showcases our ability to source outstanding assets across our target markets, is a compelling opportunity to build on Java House’s success story across sub-Saharan Africa, to create a true regional champion. Africa’s rapidly expanding middle class, sustained population growth and increasing urbanisation is creating compelling investment opportunities in multiple sectors, and we believe Java House is ideally positioned to benefit from these trends,” said Commenting on the transaction, Mustafa Abdel-Wadood, Managing Partner and Global Head of Private Equity at The Abraaj Group.
Today, it has an unrivalled regional footprint of 60 stores across 10 cities in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. The Company has three flagship brands: Java House, the largest coffee-led, all-day casual dining concept; Planet yoghurt, the region’s first self-service frozen yogurt chain; and 360 Degrees Artisan Pizza, an upmarket Italian pizzeria concept.
Java House also operates commercial coffee roasteries, providing quality coffee and bean sales to its own stores and to supermarkets, hotels, restaurants and wholesale buyers. Java House prides itself on the value it offers customers, from the quality of its service and products to the breadth and convenience of its locations. Java House currently serves over 320,000 guest cheques per month, offering food and drinks covering 25 different food categories, and employs 2000 people.
“In partnership with Java's founder Kevin Ashley and a talented management team, we have taken the business from one city and just 13 locations when we originally identified the deal and scaled it across East Africa to three countries and 60 sites today. Abraaj is taking over the reins of a powerhouse African brand at an exciting time in its growth trajectory with enormous potential to further expand a successful formula across the continent,” said Bryce Fort, a Founding Partner of ECP and head of the pan-African firm’s Nairobi office.
Abraaj, in partnership with the management team, will leverage Java House’s market leadership position and strong heritage to grow the Company into the leading pan-African casual dining / food services platform, expanding into new markets and through acquisitions. Together, they will build a leading home-grown African casual dining and foodservice group across East, West and North Africa.
“As Java House aims to accelerate into its next phase of growth, we were seeking a partner that has the scale, platform and sector expertise to enable us to achieve our aspirations. The Abraaj Group is that partner of choice and we look forward to working closely with their team to extend our market leadership position across the continent,” Ken Kuguru, Chief Executive Officer of Java House said. “Java House has had an extraordinary journey since its founding in 1999 and we are passionate about creating unique and innovative experiences for our customers everywhere. Emerging Capital Partners has been a critical catalyst in our growth story and we extend them our sincere thanks as we look ahead to an exciting future with our new partner.”
The transaction builds on Abraaj’s local knowledge, on the ground experience and strong networks in Africa where the Group has deployed $3.2 billion in 80 transactions. It further leverages Abraaj’s strong and diversified experience in the food and beverage sector gained through partnerships with leading businesses across Asia, MENA and Latin America.
ECP is a dedicated Africa growth investor, whose teams focus on originating unique opportunities by living and working in the markets they serve. Their hands-on partnership style helps entrepreneurs to grow companies that are attractive to acquirers who look for companies with both strong financial performance and international best practise standards in all measures. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP and Bowmans Kenya acted as legal advisors, while PwC acted as financial and tax advisors to Abraaj on the transaction. The transaction will close once customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals are obtained.