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Famous Brands buys plant-food focused restaurant chain

The the acquisition is aligned with Famous Brands three-year strategic roadmap. Photo Supplied.

The the acquisition is aligned with Famous Brands three-year strategic roadmap. Photo Supplied.

Published Mar 31, 2022

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Famous Brands, which owns Wimpy, Steers, and Debonairs, among other brands, yesterday announced it had acquired Lexi's Healthy Eatery as part of its strategic investment roadmap.

The JSE listed company acquired a 51 percent stake in the mostly vegan, whole-food restaurant. The acquisition is effective 1 April.

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With this move, Famous Brands joins its counterpart Tiger Brands which announced on Monday that it acquired a plant-based food company Herbivore Earthfoods alongside private equity firm Secha Capital.

According to Famous Brands, the acquisition is aligned with its three-year strategic roadmap, which includes acquiring brands that have the potential to lead in their category and which offer growth prospects based on opportunities to improve existing operational efficiencies in the target business.

"Famous Brands’ existing portfolio does not include an exclusively vegetarian or plant-based offering, and as a forerunner in its category, Lexi’s is a good fit for the group," it said.

Lexi’s, whose slogan is “Eat more plants”, is a casual dining restaurant brand offering a full-service, sit-down, plant-based dining experience across breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The acquisition pertains to the franchise and central kitchen operations of the business.

The group said the trend for healthy eating and plant-based foods has been present in the market for some time and continues to grow.

"This is evidenced by the increasing receptiveness to and take-up of healthier and vegetarian options on the menus of the group’s existing brand portfolio," Famous brands said.

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In explaining the rationale behind the acquisition, the group said Lexi’s would perfectly complement the group’s Signature Brands’ Fun Dining portfolio, providing a more comprehensive offering to landlords where the group already has a presence and to existing and prospective customers.

The group said its management was confident that the brand offering has strong potential to be expanded into a quick-service restaurant format.

"There is also scope to develop Lexi’s products for the supermarket retail space and leverage off the group’s well-established route-to-market".

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Famous Brands said management contracts had been concluded with Monzeglio and Nichele.

Lexi’s was founded in 2018 by Lexi Monzeglio. Monzeglio is the creative lead on brand, product development, and strategy, while her business partner, Ezio Nichele, manages the operations of the company, which comprises four restaurants, three owned by Monzeglio and Nichele, while one is franchised.

The restaurants are in Rosebank, Modderfontein, Hazelwood in Pretoria, and Sea Point.

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Lexi’s also operates a fledgling central kitchen that develops and produces meals for the restaurants and retails a limited range of convenience frozen goods to a small number of supermarkets. The menu is plant-based, almost entirely vegan, gluten-free, and refined sugar-free.

"The joint venture partnership offers significant value for both parties. As the creator and developer of the brand, Monzeglio brings a unique skill set and intellectual capital to a relatively untapped market niche for Famous Brands. Monzeglio and Nichele will be key to developing the strategic direction of the business through their vision and capability," Famous Brands said.

The group said it would bring the infrastructure, industry experience, and working capital to assist Lexi’s to realise its potential by helping to make a plant-based, sustainable lifestyle more accessible and convenient for communities.

Famous Brands said the management contracts have been concluded with Monzeglio and Nichele.

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