White Rabbit Pizza: Nick Croft-Simon (left) and Matteo Ferrari

Gluten-free startup White Rabbit Pizza Co has secured a £750k cash injection to underpin its expansion plans.

The challenger brand, which was founded in 2015 by Nick Croft-Simon and Matteo Ferrari, has been backed by industry investors in a raise valuing the business at £5m.

Angel investors in the round include Propercorn co-founder Ryan Kohn and former Burton’s Biscuits CEO Ben Clarke.

The cash will be used for recruitment, marketing and NPD, the founders said.

White Rabbit has seen rapid growth following launches in Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Ocado, and the expansion of its plant-based range.

It expects to reach sales of £1.2m for the current financial year and is targeting £12m in revenue in the “next three or four years”.

The fundraising round is the “first half of a larger raise” and the supplier plans to move forward with the second phase in spring 2019, Croft-Simon said.

“As well as cash investment, the incredible wealth of knowledge and experience that these people bring as mentors is invaluable to our success,” the co-founder added.

“We will use the money to expand and upgrade where necessary and to ensure our pizzas are best in class across our various consumer need states – not just ‘free from’. We are also looking to expand our brilliant team and implement an incredibly exciting pipeline of marketing activity and product innovation.”

“Our aim is to create a delicious, truly artisan, authentic pizza with the finest quality ingredients that anyone could enjoy regardless of dietary requirements.

“We’re very focused on the ‘accessibility’ need-states and this makes up a key part of our innovation process, but equally Matteo, with his heritage and expertise, will always ensure our pizzas are authentic and we will always judge our taste vs ‘conventional’ Italian pizza.”

The startup launched its vegan variants in Waitrose in June, as the upmarket supermarket’s exclusive pizza offer within the retailer’s new vegetarian and plant-based fixture.