Denis O’Brien offloads BB’s coffee chain for €10m

Consortium led by Brentwood Investments buys chain

Denis O’Brien, the Digicel founder and Independent News & Media shareholder, has sold the BB’s Coffee & Muffins chain to a group of investors for a sum believed to be in the region of €10 million.

The chain of more than 50 cafe outlets in the UK and Ireland has been bought by a consortium of investors assembled by Brentwood Investments, the financial company founded by healthcare technology investor David Raethorne.

The new group of investors in BB's includes the chain's management, as well as several private investors such as Emmet O'Neill, a nephew of Mr O'Brien who is also chief executive of fuel retailer Topaz.

Debt financing for the deal was provided by BlueBay Ireland, an investor established in 2013 by BlueBay Asset Management with cash from the State- owned Ireland Strategic Investment Fund.


The fund, which provides financing to small and medium-sized businesses, is backed with funding from the National Pensions Reserve Fund.

A statement issued on behalf of BlueBay and Brentwood said BB’s has also raised capital from its backers to fund a further 40 new outlets in Ireland and the UK. The chain is currently seeking to link up with landlords who may have suitable premises for the expansion.

Mr O’Brien’s Isle of Man-registered Baycliffe company controls BBCM Group, the company that ultimately controlled the chain prior to the sale.

Brentwood said it is seeking to acquire “similar Irish companies with strong growth prospects as well as UK companies with the potential for growth in Ireland”.

"We are delighted to back a strong, branded consumer business with a differentiated consumer proposition. BB's has good growth prospects in the UK and Ireland," said Brentwood executive Matt Scaife.

Ross Morrow, an executive with BlueBay, said the BB’s deal is BlueBay Ireland’s 11th since 2013: “[It] is a well-invested operator with shops in some of the best retail centre locations in Ireland. We look forward to supporting . . . its growth plans.”

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is London Correspondent for The Irish Times