Service station restaurant chain Oliver’s Real Foods is preparing for a public listing in the next three months with a pre-float $5 million capital raising.

The company has brought Morgans, the Brisbane-based retail brokerage and corporate finance firm, in to carry out the raising, which was launched yesterday.

Oliver’s has 20 restaurants along the east coast from Brisbane to as far south as Geelong and offers an alternative to the traditional service station greasy-spoon option.

The privately owned chain has organic, vegetarian and vegan-friendly offerings, along with gluten and dairy free options. Sushi, soups and curries feature prominently on their menus.

The store was founded by Jason Gunn in August 2005 after he became tired of having only fast food options as he drove along the F3 to Sydney each day.

The first store opened in North Wyong and subsequent stores have been rolled out over the past 12 years to the point where Gunn has pushed ahead with the idea of a public float.

Gunn holds a 50 per cent stake, which will be diluted when 30 per cent of the company is floated. It plans to raise about $20m in the next few months before an IPO.

The $5m raised now will be used to buy back four of the seven stores that are franchised.

Gunn plans to implement a wholly-owned company store model. The business has been backed by RBC Capital Markets managing director Curtis Smith who came across Oliver’s when he was KMPG Sydney’s head of mergers and acquisitions. Before that, he was at Goldman Sachs and holds 11 per cent of the restaurant chain.

Kathy Hatzis, who serves on the Australian Marketing Institute Board, owns 20 per cent of Oliver’s with her husband Ben Butos. Veteran corporate adviser John Diddams is helping with the capital raising and has taken a seat as a non-executive director while RMS Australia is the company’s auditor and accounting firm. The pre-IPO raising is being led by Morgans corporate finance director Mark Gross.

Gunn has ambitious plans to open another 40 stores over the next three years and already has sale and lease rights over a number of service station sites.

Oliver’s restaurants are based mainly as stand-alone sites at Caltex, Shell and BP locations and are usually beside McDonald’s and KFC outlets to capitalise on higher traffic.

The chain has been pursued by servo operators keen to offer food diversity to customers and travellers.

A float was considered in 2015 but put on hold and Gunn is keen to get moving now to take advantage of the improved financial and trading market conditions.

Research firm IBISWorld estimates the Australian restaurant industry last year clocked up $20.4 billion in revenue and forecasts it to grow by at least 4.2 per cent annually over the next five years. The industry recorded a profit in the past year of $916.6m.

Extracted from The Australian.