A KNUTSFORD restaurant has bought out its owners and plans to open more venues across the UK over the next three to four years.

Gusto Restaurant and Bar has today, Thursday, April 17, completed a management buyout from Living Ventures, with investment support from Palatine Private Equity.

The Knutsford-based restaurant brand, which was founded in 2007 following a relaunch from Est Est Est, is looking to open more restaurants across the UK over the next three to four years.

Gusto currently operates across nine sites in the north including, Alderley Edge, Cookridge, Cheadle Hulme, Didsbury, Edinburgh, Heswall, King Street in Knutsford, Liverpool and Newcastle.

This year, the business achieved sales of £16.4m and currently employs more than 400 staff across the various locations.

The Living Ventures Group was founded in 1999 by CEO Tim Bacon and Commercial Director Jeremy Roberts. It owns other well-known brands including Blackhouse, Australasia, Artisan and The Alchemist, and recorded group sales of £65m in the year to March 2014 – a 36per cent increase on the previous year.

Both Bacon and Roberts have invested in the new Gusto business and will stay on as non-executive directors.

Gusto’s Managing Director Sue Crimes and Operations Director Tony Griffin will join the board, with Palatine’s managing partner, Gary Tipper, and investment director Beth Houghton, who led the investment process completing the team.

With Palatine’s support, Gusto is set to capitalise on growth and already has plans to launch a new flagship restaurant in Manchester city centre.

Sue Crimes, managing director of Gusto, said: “This is a very exciting time for myself and the Gusto team.

“I am delighted that a partnership with Palatine has been formed and that together we will grow Gusto into a larger national business. Gusto is already a successful brand but I believe this deal will see it become a recognised brand throughout the country.”

Gary Tipper, managing partner at Palatine Private Equity, said: “We’ve been talking to the Living Ventures team for a number of years and we are delighted to be supporting them in this expansion of Gusto.

“The Gusto team have done an excellent job to date and we look forward to introducing the brand to other parts of the UK.”

Tim Bacon, non-executive chairman of Gusto, added: “It will be great to see what has been a very successful brand in the north west finally get its wings and fly. Jeremy and I are very excited to be working with Sue, Gary and the team to take Gusto to a national audience.”