Famous Brands buys 51% of plant-based restaurant, Lexi’s Healthy Eatery

Making this the group’s first exclusively plant-based casual dining restaurant addition to its portfolio.
Lexi Monzeglio and her business partner Ezio Nichele. Image: Supplied

JSE-listed Famous Brands on Wednesday announced it has acquired a majority stake (51%) in plant-based casual dining restaurant Lexi’s Healthy Eatery, the group says it aims to make the plant-based sustainable lifestyle more accessible and convenient for consumers.

The deal which will be effective April 1, will be settled from Famous Brands’ cash reserves and pertains to the franchise and central kitchen operations of the Lexi Healthy Eatery business. The acquisition of Lexi’s makes the business the first of its kind in the Famous Brands stable.

Lexi’s boasts a plant-based, gluten-free, refined sugar-free and almost entirely vegan all-day menu and already has a presence in Rosebank, Modderfontein, Hazelwood (Pretoria) and Sea Point.

“The acquisition is aligned with Famous Brands’ 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 says in a Sens statement.

Famous Brands, like its peer Tiger Brands, has decided to diversify its brand offering by jumping onto the healthy eating trend spearheaded by food conscious young consumers.

On Tuesday South Africa’s largest food producer Tiger Brands announced that it would be co-investing in plant-based food company Herbivore Earthfoods alongside private equity firm Secha Capital.

Read: Tiger Brands bets on plant-based food

“The trend [towards] 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,” the group says.

Lexi’s expansion plans

The South African franchiser – which is known for its Steers, Debonairs Pizza, Wimpy and Mugg & Bean brands – says it plans to expand the eatery into a quick-service restaurant and develop its products for the supermarket retail space.

“Lexi’s will 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.

“In time, Lexi’s central kitchen could cater for ancillary business from the group’s existing brands, as happens elsewhere in the business model.”

The group further adds that partners Lexi Monzeglio – who founded the business in 2018 – as well as her business partner Ezio Nichele – who manages the businesses operations – will continue to play a vital role in the restaurant’s growth.

Monzeglio worked for Moneyweb as a publisher, from 2015 to 2016.

Together Monzeglio and Nichele will develop the strategic direction of the business while Famous Brands will put up the infrastructure capacity, industry experience and working capital to assist achieve the business’s potential and make the plant-based sustainable lifestyle more readily available.

Listen to co-founder Nichele’s interview with Fifi Peters on SAFM Market Update (or read the transcript):

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