The former owner of Weetabix and Kettle Foods has snapped up bar chain Loungers from private equity firm Piper in a deal valuing the business at £137m.

Lion Capital, which counts Young’s Seafood in its portfolio, has acquired a majority stake, including Piper’s shareholding, as well a chunk of shares from the founders.

Founded in Bristol in 2002 by friends Alex Reilley, Jake Bishop and Dave Reid, Loungers is a chain of informal, all-day, neighbourhood café-bars, offering an alternative to local pubs and coffee bars.

Piper, which backed popcorn brand Propercorn earlier this year, invested £16m in April 2012 when the business comprised 20 Lounges and three Cosy Club sites. Over the past four years, the company has more than quadrupled the number of sites to 94, opening 20 sites a year since 2014 and creating 2,000 jobs, with turnover close to £50m.

Loungers is planning to open its 100th site by April 2017 and has a further 20 in the pipeline for the following year.

Alex Reilley will stay on as chairman of the group and Nick Collins, who joined as finance director in 2012 and became CEO in 2015, will continue to lead the business, together with COO Justin Carter. Jake Bishop will remain as MD of the Cosy Club brand.

Reilley said: “From these strong foundations we look forward to the next phase of growth with Lion Capital, who share our excitement and passion about the future and have the experience to help us continue fulfilling our potential.

“We have known the Lion team for some time, and their experience in working with Wagamama and other companies in the leisure, food and retail sector will be a huge benefit as we enter the next phase of our expansion.”

Lion partner James Cocker added: “We have admired Loungers for several years as one of the most distinctive and scalable foodservice propositions in the UK. Its casual, all-day offering is well-aligned with consumer trends and has been proven to trade successfully in an extraordinarily diverse range of locations.”

Lion Capital was advised by Houlihan Lokey, Proskauer, PwC and OC&C. Piper and the existing shareholders were advised by GCA Altium, Burges Salmon and PwC.