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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Virgin Money Backs Sessions with £3.25 Million Investment in Food Brand Licensing

Sessions, a food brand licensing platform, has successfully raised £3.25 million in funding from Virgin Money. The company plans to utilize the capital to further develop its technology and expand its brand portfolio. In just under three years of operation, the Sessions Platform has achieved over £47 million in annualized sales, with a growth rate exceeding 300% in the latest quarter. This funding round follows a £8.1 million Series A round that closed in 2022.

The Sessions platform identifies promising food brands and accelerates their growth by launching them in existing kitchens. Unlike traditional dark kitchen models, Sessions adopts a multi-channel approach to licensing, making its brands available on delivery platforms and in physical venues. This omnichannel strategy, combined with authentic food concepts, has been crucial in driving consumer sales.

Dan Warne, the founder of Sessions, commented, “To raise this round with such a great team at Virgin is testament to the significant growth we’ve achieved across the past 12 months, while radically improving profitability. It also marks a line in the sand for us to inject clear purpose and energy into our biggest growth lever – licensing and scaling brands through our tech platform.”

Sessions attributes its continued growth to two core principles: firstly, supporting authentic food concepts created by engaged and passionate founders, as consumers seek genuine stories behind the brands they support. Secondly, anchoring these concepts in the physical world helps build brand equity more quickly than relying solely on delivery, where success can be influenced by algorithms. These principles are proving to be fundamental, as there is a growing understanding that purely virtual dark kitchen models face significant challenges.

Mark Cook, Head of Venture Debt at Virgin Money, stated, “Virgin Money Venture Debt is delighted to have completed a £3.25m funding package with Sessions, a leading B2C technology company with a capital efficient physical and digital food platform. Sessions has an innovative asset light food licensing and franchising model which in essence helps chef founders rapidly test, incubate and scale their creations in an authentic way. We warmly welcome Dan Warne (CEO), Ian Banks (CFO) and all the Sessions team to our portfolio of fast growing technology companies.”

With this funding, Sessions is strategically shifting its focus away from large capital expenditure projects with high operational demands, such as food halls, in favor of an asset-light, tech-enabled approach. However, Shelter Hall, where the company originated, has achieved record revenues and profits over the 12 months leading up to September and remains an essential content engine for Sessions. More than a third of the brands launched at Shelter Hall have expanded within the wider Sessions network. For example, Patty Guy by Kenny Tutt has scaled across 100 sites under license and has opened two physical franchises in Worthing and Hastings in the past six months.

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