The London vegan fast-food company Globally Local, which several years ago opened Canada’s first vegan fast-food restaurant, has now become the world’s first vegan fast-food company to go public.
As of Friday, investors can purchase stock in Globally Local Technologies Inc. (TSXV:GBLY), parent company of the fast-food chain, which has been listed on TSX Venture Exchange, a stock exchange for emerging companies.
James and Vasiliki McInnes, the husband and wife duo who founded the company, say it’s part of an ambitious multi-million-dollar plan to expand the fast-food chain’s footprint across North America, and to disrupt the fast-food industry with the “proprietary plant-based proteins and dairy alternatives” it manufactures.
“We think that our public offering and subsequent expansion will make it easier for people to eat sustainable food,” James McInnes told 980 CFPL Friday by email.
“We need to make the choice to eat-for-the-planet easy and affordable – (I) think that’s something people can really get behind.”
With two locations currently open, in Toronto and Windsor, work is underway for Globally Local to open six new stores in Ontario, along with at least 20 more across North America in the next 12 months. The company also plans to expand its manufacturing capability.
Globally Local’s first storefront on Dundas Street in London closed last month, but a new store is set to open soon on Commissioners Road East.
McInness said at least $4.2 million had been raised from the company’s go-public event, an amount he believes “will be enough for us to execute our 12 month plan.”
According to a press release, Globally Local worked out an agreement with TSXV-listed capital pool firm Black Lion Capital Corp. to consolidate as Globally Local Technologies Inc., rather than go with an initial public offering.
The couple were set to be on hand Friday to ring the closing bell of the TSX. By the end of the trading day, GBLY’s share price had risen to 0.97 from its opening at 0.70.
Globally Local’s debut on the stock market this week is just the latest chapter in a remarkable local success story that has played out over the last several years.
The company first made a splash in the London food scene in 2016 when it debuted a plant-based burger at the city’s annual salute to barbeque — RibFest. Its chickpea-based burger, a play on McDonald’s iconic Big Mac, turned out to be a major hit.
“To our amazement, there was so much demand for it that we sold out at that event,” McInnes told 980 CFPL’s Mike Stubbs in a separate interview.
“The amount of interest and support was just incredible. That kind of kicked off us going into the fast-food business, to be honest.”
Up until that point, Globally Local had been a vegan meal kit company running out of the old Farmer Jack’s location, he said.
“We had developed and tested a whole bunch of different meal kits, and we found that the ones that people loved the most were the ones that were those iconic fast-food items that, at the time, they were making in their home,” he said.
Following the success of their RibFest appearance, McInness says Globally Local then expanded to a popular food truck, and by December 2016, had its first storefront location on Dundas Street in downtown London — the country’s first vegan fast-food restaurant.
Months later, a second (since-closed) drive-thru location opened at Highbury and Cheapside streets, and the Globally Local food truck found itself traversing the province, popping up at various festivals.
“We knew that we had to bring this to the world, we had to scale this up,” McInnes said.
“We’re so fortunate to have started here, because, I believe, if you can get something to succeed in London, it can succeed anywhere in the world,” he added, referring to London’s status as a popular product test market.
“That was that proof of concept that just took us to the next level.”
In 2018, the company opened its own London-based manufacturing facility in a bid to keep its product supply chain controlled, keep costs and prices in line with other fast-food options, and develop new products, including “proprietary automation technology” in its restaurant kitchens, according to a press release.
More information can be found on the Globally Local website.