Bridges Sustainable Growth Funds
The Bridges Sustainable Growth Funds invest in ambitious growth companies that are helping to tackle some of our most pressing social and environmental challenges.
Since 2002, we have shown that this approach can unlock compelling commercial opportunities – by identifying unmet needs, responding to long-term demand drivers and building better relationships with customers and employees.
We have just completed investing our third vintage fund in this strategy.
Capital that makes a difference
We partner with management teams who share this vision, then work closely alongside them to help accelerate their growth and optimise their impact. We provide the finance they need to support organic growth, buy-and-build/roll-out strategies, or a change of ownership. We help them strengthen their team as they grow. And we provide hands-on strategic and operational support, drawing on our 15 years’ experience of investing within our four impact themes.
The Gym Group
Bridges became interested in the low-cost gym concept in 2006, when we started thinking about how to invest for impact in the ‘health and well-being’ area. Discovering that there was no such business in existence in the UK, we developed the idea in-house, and teamed up with entrepreneur John Treharne to launch The Gym Group in 2007.
The Gym provides state-of-the-art fitness facilities in purpose-built gyms which are open 24-hours, 7-days-a-week and are located mainly in underserved areas, offering flexible memberships from as little as £10.99 per month. A pioneer of the low-cost gym concept in the UK, The Gym has now expanded to over 80 across the UK, with over 420,000 members, one-third of whom are first-time gym users.
Bridges initially sold a portion of its majority stake to Phoenix Equity Partners in 2013, to fund the next phase of The Gym’s growth, representing a 50% IRR and 3.7x multiple. Some of the proceeds were rolled over so we could retain a 25% stake in the business, enabling Bridges’ investors to benefit from further growth.
In 2015, Bridges and Phoenix Equity Partners successfully sold shares equivalent to 50% of the business via an offering on the London Stock Exchange. The initial offer price values the business at £250m – and values Bridges’ investment in The Gym at about 5.8x cost.
Plant-based proteins are considerably less resource-intensive in comparison to meat products. They are also increasingly popular with health-conscious consumers, not least because they have been linked to a reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Vegetarian Express is the UK’s leading supplier of specialist plant-based ingredients to the food service industry, with an unmatched range of over 1,000 products (including tofu, tempeh, quinoa, nuts, spices, pulses etc.) and unrivalled sourcing capabilities. It has a strong service culture, working closely with chefs to develop new menu ideas, and its ingredients are already consumed across 2,500 catering locations in the UK, which collectively serve over 1 million diners.
Bridges will work to support Vegetarian Express’s growth plans of distributing a broader range of ingredients to its existing food service sites more frequently, while also opening up delivery routes to new customers throughout the UK.
A reduction in greenhouse gas emission levels in the UK. Systemic impact through wider consumer adoption of lower meat, sustainable diets. ESG opportunities in sourcing, supply chain and logistics.
We chose Bridges as an investor because we felt they shared our values, understood our sector and our vision of what World of Books can achieve in the future.Stephen Boobyer, CEO, World of Books
Investors, Donors & Partners
Barclays Business Banking
Lloyds TSB Scotland plc
The Royal Bank of Scotland
West Midlands Pension Fund
South Yorkshire Pensions Authority
Railways Pension Trustee Company Ltd
Merseyside Pension Fund
Trusts and Endowments
All Souls College
R&S Cohen Foundation
SHINE: Support and Help in Education