July 3, 2017: Pan-African private equity firm Emerging Capital Partners (ECP) has announced that it has entered a definitive agreement to sell its 90 percent share ownership of the Java House Group, East Africa’s leading casual dining chain, to The Abraaj Group.

Java House Group was established in Nairobi in 1999 by founder Kevin Ashley. In 2012, ECP acquired a majority stake in the company with Kevin Ashley retaining a minority stake. Over the last five years, ECP has worked with Java House’s management team to grow from 13 stores in Nairobi into East Africa’s largest casual dining brand with an unrivalled regional footprint of 60 stores across 10 cities in Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda that has built a regional dining-out culture.

The company has three flagship brands: Java House, the largest concept, an all-day casual dining coffee house, Planet Yogurt, the region’s first self-service frozen yogurt chain, and 360 Degrees Artisan Pizza, an upscale Italian pizzeria. Java House also operates commercial coffee roasteries, providing quality coffee and bean sales to its own stores and to supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, and wholesale buyers.

Bryce Fort, a Founding Partner of ECP and head of the firm’s Nairobi office, stated, “In partnership with Java’s founder Kevin Ashley and a talented management team, we have taken the business from one city and scaled it across 10 cities in East Africa in 3 countries. In the process we grew the business from 13 sites when we identified the deal to 60 sites today. Abraaj is taking over the reins of a leading African brand at an exciting time in its growth trajectory with enormous potential to further expand a successful formula across the continent.”

“The growth of Java House is a leading example of how ECP works with businesses in Africa to help them achieve scale, enter new markets and sectors, create jobs, and improve consumer choice.”

Ken Kuguru, Chief Executive Officer of Java House, said, “As Java House aims to accelerate into its next phase of growth, we were seeking a partner that has the scale, platform, and sector expertise to enable us to achieve our aspirations. The Abraaj Group is that partner of choice and we look forward to working closely with their team to extend our market leadership position across the continent.

Java House has had an extraordinary journey since its founding in 1999 and we are passionate about creating unique and innovative experiences for our customers everywhere. Emerging Capital Partners has been a critical catalyst in our growth story and we extend them our sincere thanks as we look ahead to an exciting future with our new partner.”

The deal is expected to close within three months with completion of regulatory approvals. In the meantime, ECP continues to explore potential opportunities in the region.