Island Poke plots new restaurant openings after investment deal

Henry Saker-Clark, PA City Reporter
·2 min read

Restaurant chain Island Poke has secured a cash injection from hospitality investor Hero Brands to help accelerate its plans for rapid growth.

The Hawaiian poke bowl chain has more than doubled in size over the past year to 17 outlets and is targeting more openings as pandemic restrictions start to lift.

It said it plans to use the “substantial” undisclosed investment to open at least five more sites by the end of 2021.

Island Poke opened four “dark kitchens” in the UK over the past year as it used an expansion in delivery to help keep growth plans on track despite the global health crisis.

Island Poke 1
Island Poke founder James Gould-Porter (Island/PA)

Funds will also go towards its plans to expand rapidly in France, with plans for a further 40 sites in the country in five years.

Hero Brands, which operates the global master franchise for German Doner Kebab, said it plans to use its industry expertise and operational infrastructure to help the food-to-go specialist expand in the UK and globally.

The growth strategy will led by former Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group international executive Nick Schapira.

Island Poke founder James Gould-Porter said: “We’re so excited to be bringing Hero Brands on board and the experience that they’ll bring to the table.

“We’ve been working closely together and feel that our businesses are a great fit for each other.

“We’ve seen what they’ve done with other concepts within their portfolio and look forward to growing together.”

The investment will see Hero Brands join the board alongside early investor Chris Miller of White Rabbit Projects and Mr Gould-Porter.

Coronavirus – Mon Aug 3, 2020
Diners at Island Poke in Kingly Street, London, during Eat Out to Help Out (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Hero Brands chairman Athif Sarwar said: “Hero Brands is responding to emerging consumer trends and focused on growing the brands of the future.

“We look to partner with disruptive brands that have a USP and can be scaled and taken to global markets.

“Island Poke fits with our DNA and is a fantastic concept that is already proving to be a huge hit with consumers across London and France.

“We are now very much looking forward to working with James and the team to bring our expertise and embark on our ambitions to create a truly global brand.”

Mr Miller said: “It has been incredibly tough in the hospitality market over the past year so it is great to provide some good news with a big growth plan and the job opportunities that it will create.”