Sessions, a food brand licensing platform, has raised £3.25 million in funding from Virgin Money to further develop its technology and expand its brand portfolio. In just under three years, Sessions has grown to generate over £47 million in annualised sales, achieving more than 300% growth in the latest quarter. This funding round follows a £8.1 million Series A round closed in 2022.
The Sessions platform identifies promising food brands and rapidly scales them by launching them in existing kitchens. Unlike dark kitchen models, Sessions employs a multi-channel approach to licensing, making its brands available on delivery platforms and in physical venues. This omnichannel strategy, coupled with authentic and engaging concepts, has been crucial in driving consumer sales.
Founder Dan Warne commented, “To raise this round with such a great team at Virgin is testament to the significant growth we’ve achieved across the past 12 months, while radically improving profitability. It also marks a line in the sand for us to inject clear purpose and energy into our biggest growth lever – licensing and scaling brands through our tech platform.”
Sessions attributes its continued growth to two key principles. Firstly, it supports genuine, authentic food concepts created by passionate founders. Consumers prefer brands with a real story behind them. Secondly, anchoring these concepts in the physical world builds brand equity more rapidly than relying solely on delivery, where algorithms play a significant role. These principles are proving fundamental, as pure-play dark kitchen models face increasing challenges.
Mark Cook, Head of Venture Debt at Virgin, said, “Virgin Money Venture Debt is delighted to have completed a £3.25m funding package with Sessions, a leading B2C technology company with a capital efficient physical and digital food platform. Sessions has an innovative asset light food licensing and franchising model which in essence helps chef founders rapidly test, incubate and scale their creations in an authentic way. We warmly welcome Dan Warne (CEO), Ian Banks (CFO) and all the Sessions team to our portfolio of fast growing technology companies.”
With this funding aimed at expanding its licensing operations, Sessions is shifting away from large capital expenditure projects with high operational intensity, such as additional food halls, which no longer align with its asset-light, tech-enabled strategy. However, Shelter Hall, where the business began, has achieved record revenues and profits over the 12 months leading up to September, remaining an essential content engine for Sessions. More than a third of the brands launched there have gone on to grow within the wider Sessions network. One of these brands, Patty Guy by Kenny Tutt, has expanded to 100 sites under license and opened two physical franchises in Worthing and Hastings in the past six months.