Leon plans 10 new restaurants with help of customer fundraising scheme

Casual dining chain Leon is planning a major expansion over the next three years with the opening of ten new restaurants.

The expansion will be funded in part by a new bond scheme, which will aim to raise money through the chain's customers.

Customers will be offered returns of ten per cent for a £1,500 investment, rising to 15 per cent for an investment of £5,000, over a five-year period.

However, returns will only be payable in '£eon Pounds', which will be loaded onto electronic cards and can only be used to purchase food at Leon restaurants.

Investors will also be entered into a quarterly prize giveaway, where they can win anything from Leon-branded pyjamas to a holiday.

In total, Leon hopes to raise £1.5 million through the scheme.

"Savers can't get the rates, banks aren't lending to businesses – and this is despite the government giving them money to do so. So let's cut out the middle man," said Leon co-founder John Vincent.

"Our customers regularly send us emails asking us to open near their office or near their home. This is a way that customers can get us there and benefit financially too."

If successful, the scheme would almost double the number of establishments owned by the chain, from 11 currently to 21 by the end of 2015.

As such, Leon, which opened its first site in 2004 on London's Carnaby Street, is also likely to be significantly stepping up its chef recruitment activity.

Henry Dimbleby, the other co-founder of Leon and its chief executive, said: "Our vision is to become an international fast food business, growing through franchise and owned stores.

"We would like to have a Leon on every high street in the UK but at the same time we will expand carefully and ensure we retain the quality which is at the heart of the brand."

Berkeley Scott is a specialist recruitment agency providing hospitality employment solutions