A FRENCH restaurant group with a branch in Stockton Heath has received £9.8 million investment to allow it to expand further throughout the country.

Le Bistrot Pierre, which has 14 eateries across the UK including the Warrington site, was established as a franchise in 1994 by school friends Robert Beacham and John Whitehead.

In the last six months it has opened two additional bistrots in Bath and Newport and is planning another two locations in Birmingham and Swansea in 2016.

The £20 million valued group delivered record revenues of £18 million and profits in excess of £2 million in 2015.

And the investment boost from mid-market private equity business Livingbridge is set to accelerate its restaurant roll-out plans.

Co-managing director Mr Whitehead said: "We are excited by Livingbridge's endorsement of our business and with their investment look forward to expanding our estate and opening more successful bistrots.

"The whole process leading up to the deal has been smooth and we are now relishing the new years of growth with our partners."

Livingbridge director Benoit Broch added: "Bistrot Pierre is precisely the sort of business that we love working with – they have a fantastic management team, a proven business model and a really differentiated offering and we are really excited about our future partnership with them having had the pleasure of getting to know Robert, John and the team over the past year.

"This deal really demonstrates Livingbridge's continued commitment and enthusiasm for the eating and drinking out market and we look forward to building on our growing presence in this space."

The investment in Bistrot Pierre is Livingbridge's second deal in the restaurant sector having invested in Pho, the Vietnamese restaurant chain, in 2012.