Leon maps out Scandinavian expansion as investor buys in
LEON is taking its sweet potato wraps and super salads to Norway and Sweden after sealing a tie-up with a Norwegian millionaire to expand in the region.
The healthy food chain plans to open around 20 sites over a period of five years, with the first restaurant opening in Oslo as soon as the end of this year. The restaurant will be the chain’s second overseas move after opening two outposts in Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport last year.
The push into Scandinavia follows a meeting between John Vincent, the Leon co-founder, and Jens Ulltveitmoe, who made part of his $400m (£311m) fortune in oil-related ventures before selling them almost two decades ago to focus on the renewable energy industry.
Mr Ulltveit-moe’s company, Umoe, which now runs more than 360 restaurants and cafes in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, is taking an undisclosed stake in Leon as part of its agreement to open restaurants across Scandinavia.
Mr Vincent said that the deal would help his ambition to make Leon the number one in “naturally fast food”. In March, Leon sold a £25m stake to private equity house Spice as part of its efforts to accelerate international expansion.
It is understood that Leon is also close to signing a deal for its first restaurant in America after Mr Vincent and a colleague embarked on a road trip last year on Honda Goldwing motorbikes from Washington DC to Denver to identify suitable sites.
Last week it was revealed that Leon co-founder Henry Dimbleby had stepped down from the restaurant chain’s board as he focuses on street food company London Union.
Despite this move, Mr Dimbleby will remain as a significant investor in the business.
Healthy fast food chain Leon has unveiled plans to open around 20 sites in Norway and Sweden, with Oslo hosting the first of them