Investors are weighing up whether to take a stake in a restaurant chain that was founded in Hove six years ago.
Giggling Squid has grown rapidly since it started selling Thai tapas in Church Road, Hove, in 2009.
Now the husband and wife owners, Andy and Pranee Laurillard, are looking for funds to pay for even more new openings.
Mr Laurillard said: “We’re trying to raise funds for growth. We still want to retain a majority stake and we want to pay our mortgage off. We mortgaged everything for this.”
As well as in Hove, they have a restaurant in Market Street, Brighton, and 13 other sites in Sussex, Surrey, Kent, Essex, Suffolk, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Bath.
At least eight new openings are in the pipeline with the goal of operating a chain of 50 to 70 restaurants within five to seven years.
Their company, Giggling Restaurants, is working with accountancy firm Grant Thornton to attract investors, with an information memorandum due to be published in a few weeks’ time.
Trade buyers and private equity investors are showing interest, according to the Propel Info newsletter for the food and drink trade.
Propel said that Giggling Squid was “already in advanced legal negotiations to acquire six more sites, five in the Home Counties and one in the Midlands”.
The company is looking to raise about £10 million. Its most recent accounts, to the end of March last year, show turnover up from £2.7 million a year earlier to £4.5 million.
Operating profit fell from £282,000 to £46,000 and pre-tax profit dropped from £258,000 to £4,000 as the cost of new openings rose.
Mr and Mrs Laurillard are aiming for Giggling Squid to become Britain’s first national Thai restaurant chain.
They spent £150,000 on a refit of the original Hove premises last year after huge hailstones came through the roof and led to the restaurant flooding.
The Brighton and Hove restaurants are two of the best-performing in the company.
Meanwhile, Giggling Squid has hired Peter Morrison as its new operations director. Mr Morrison, who previously worked as operations director for Prezzo’s Chimichanga brand, lives in Brighton.
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