Specialist plant-based ingredients supplier boosted with £15 million investment

NVM has announced that it has completed a new investment into Vegetarian Express. The Watford-based business specialises in providing high quality, plant-based ingredients, ideas and inspiration to chefs across the UK.

Strong ESG credentials have helped fuel the company’s growth, and under the leadership of Managing Director, Dave Webster, the company became one of the UK’s first foodservice businesses to achieve B Corp status in 2019.

Proceeds from the investment will be used to build on Vegetarian Express’s expansion into Ireland, enhance its operational capabilities, support its expanding customer base, and strengthen its digital offering.

The £15 million investment, which has been led by Mauro Biagioni and Alex Wilson, is NVM’s eighth transaction in 12 months.

Vegetarian Express was previously owned by Bridges Fund Management, the specialist sustainable and impact investor, which invested in the business in late 2016. Since that time, Vegetarian Express has expanded significantly, more than doubling revenues and delivering positive environmental impact: during Bridges’ period of ownership, Vegetarian Express has averted an estimated c.15,000 tonnes of CO2e as a result of its products directly replacing meat or dairy products.

Dave Webster, Managing Director of Vegetarian Express said “The management team and I are incredibly proud of what we’ve delivered in the last seven years, which has seen the professionalisation of Vegetarian Express into the UK’s leading plant-based category specialist to the foodservice sector. For the next stage of our growth journey, we’re excited to be partnering with private equity firm NVM. NVM’s backing will enable us to scale faster and help even more customers get brilliant-plant-based food on their menus.”

Mauro Biagioni, Investment Partner of NVM said “Both Alex and I are pleased to complete this investment backing Dave and the team on the next phase of their growth journey. The business is a true category specialist, with an  excellent reputation for its extensive range of high-quality authentic products. ESG is at the heart of the business, and with new investment, a highly experienced management team and its reputation for outstanding customer service, Vegetarian Express is well positioned for considerable future growth.”

Emma Thorne, Partner at Bridges, said: “We invested in Vegetarian Express because we believed there was a clear commercial and impact opportunity in helping consumers reduce their meat consumption by switching to plant-based meals. In Vegetarian Express, we identified a best-in-class provider with strong
growth potential that also shared our values. The business has grown substantially over the course of our investment diversifying its offering, expanding its own-brand range and launching its unique Seedbank tool for chefs. We’re really proud of the growth and impact it has achieved, and wish its outstanding team all the best for the future.”