Restaurant chain prepares to open 13th site in five years

Nisha Katona
X The Business Desk

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Authentic Indian restaurant chain Mowgli Street Food is set to open its 13th restaurant this year, thanks to ongoing investment from Foresight Group and a consistent approach that has seen it through the COVID-19 crisis.

Mowgli’s newest restaurant will open in London’s Charlotte Street this November. It is the latest in a string of new Mowgli sites and following this there will be further openings in Preston, Bristol, Brighton, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

With a modern focus on healthy, light, flavoursome dishes, along with its provision of an extensive gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan offering, Mowgli differentiates itself from traditional Indian restaurants.

This quality has seen customers stay loyal to the Mowgli brand, returning in force once the country emerged from lockdown.

Investment support has also played a vital role in the Liverpool-based restaurant chain’s success and resilience.

In 2017, when Mowgli was operating just two restaurants – one in Liverpool and one in Manchester – Foresight Group recognised its potential and injected £3.5m of growth capital into the business.

Following Foresight’s investment, founder Nisha Katona hired Karen Jones, founder of Café Rouge and chair of Hawksmoor, as Mowgli chair and appointed Matthew Peck, former head of finance at private equity-backed Byron Hamburgers, as chief financial officer and Lucy Worth – formerly of Byron and Jamie’s Italian – as chief operating officer.

They have provided invaluable assistance to the Mowgli team regarding growth strategy and implementation.

Nisha Katona said: “Foresight and its expert advisors have supported our continued growth, despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, allowing us to expand into new geographies without compromising the quality of our offering.

“They have stood shoulder to shoulder with us as we emerged from the COVID crisis in a position of strength and resilience in the face of the unprecedented circumstances facing our sector at present.

“Being primarily based outside of London in university cities and towns has helped to counter any recruitment issues. We currently have 510 members of staff and create 40 new local jobs in each city we open in, so by July 2022 we will employ just under 700 members of staff.

“And we operate a tight supply chain with many of our recipes based around pulses, rather than red meat, which has helped to protect us from supply shortages.”

Nisha added: “What we want to do now is build on our strong position by expanding further, all the while maintaining our brand integrity and continuing to offer customers what they have always loved about Mowgli.

“Foresight is supporting that vision and has made running the business stress free. There has been a level governance, but they understand that we want to keep the brand precious and haven’t forced us to compromise – there’s been no pressure to do home delivery or meal kits, for instance.

“The Foresight team is patient, and they are enabling us to remain precious, independent and cult.”

Claire Alvarez, partner, Foresight, said: “It has been an absolute pleasure supporting Nisha on her journey to take Mowgli Street Food from a regional business to a nationwide operation.

“We recognised from the beginning that the brand had enormous potential and it’s thanks to Nisha’s passion and willingness to work in partnership with our team that Mowgli Street Food continues to thrive, even against the toughest odds. We are very excited about what the future holds for the business and are proud that it was conceived in the North West.”

The Mowgli Water Street restaurant in Liverpool

Future expansion plans see Mowgli Street Food aiming to launch four to five new restaurants per year, with ambitions to open in Newcastle, Chelmsford and Cambridge.

The company’s expansion goes hand in hand with its commitment to social value. Mowgli was created with charitable giving as a central pillar of its ethos. This enables it to enrich the lives of its teams, and give back to the communities where it is located.

Each year, The Mowgli Trust raises hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity. Through The Mowgli Trust a child in need is sponsored for every full-time employee that is recruited.

Through the Trust, up to £500,000 a year is donated to Mowgli’s carefully chosen charitable partners. The number of charities benefiting will only grow as Mowgli is brought to even more locations across the UK.