Emerging Capital Partners yesterday announced that they had acquired a majority stake in restaurant chain Artcaffe Group as the country’s coffee-dining business experiences major re-alignment. The deal comes a year after ECP sold its stake at Java House to Dubai-based Abraaj Group, with the latter reported to have paid Sh10 billion for East Africa’s largest coffee shop.However, even as the coffee-drinking culture induces mergers and acquisitions in the sector, the Mug, one of the oldest coffee shops, is on the verge of the auction after failing to pay Sh4.3 million rent arrears.“There is an immense opportunity in eastern Africa for casual dining concept. Alongside population growth and increased urbanisation, demand for international cuisine and casual, high-quality dining experiences is rising,” ECP said in a statement.
A number of new, trendy coffee shops have sprung up in Nairobi’s Central Business District, throwing the sector into a frenzy.Some of the restaurants include Uganda-based coffee chain Café Javas, Charlie’s Bistro and Moody’s.ECP did not say how much it would pay for the “substantial majority” stake in Artcaffe which runs 26 outlets in Nairobi as well as a bakery, kitchen, and logistics centre that supplies its restaurants.A city of more than four million people, Nairobi is home to a growing middle class and a large expatriate population that has piqued the interest of regional investors and global brands such as KFC and Pizza Hut.Java, the largest coffee chain, operates three brands – Java House; Planet Yogurt, a self-service frozen yoghurt chain, and 360 Degrees Artisan Pizza, an upmarket Italian pizzeria concept.
It currently serves over 320,000 guest checks per month, offering food and drinks covering 25 different categories and employs 2,000 people.