Q&A: Sam Martin Co-Founder of Peckwater Brands

Peckwater Brands runs a range of virtual restaurant brands. These are virtual restaurants that exist solely on third-party delivery platforms, like Deliveroo or Uber Eats, without their own brick-and-mortar location.

Tell me about your startup and what you do? 

Our brands are all run from the kitchens of existing enterprises – to the benefit of all involved parties.

We essentially help hospitality businesses to make the most of their ingredients and their equipment without imposing a great deal of operational strain. But unlike other businesses, we don’t just give hospitality businesses the license to operate the brand and leave it there. We provide the hospitality owners with the brand, menu, suppliers, packaging, marketing tools, as well as a tutorial and ongoing support to help such businesses adopt the new menu and are there every step of the way.

Where did the idea come from? 

Peckwater was founded in 2019 by myself and my partner, Leo Bradshaw (Executive Chair). Leo was previously Associate Director at Fairgrove Partners, while I worked as UK&I General Manager at Karma Kitchen, and before that as Head of Innovation at Uber Eats UK&I.

We saw that food delivery was the only part of the hospitality sector that was showing signs of significant growth and wanted to help food operators enter this profitable market. We felt the best way to do this was by adopting a CapEx-light model by working with existing kitchens, who already have the equipment, ingredients, staff and so forth, but whose premises are not running at full capacity. Therefore, they could take on additional orders, but with minimal operational disruption –virtual brands were the ideal solution.

We began working on a franchising concept that was brand-led, data-driven and gave restauranteurs control over the kinds of brands they folded into their operations. Between Leo and myself, we had the marketing expertise and industry know-how to make the process of embracing virtual brands streamlined and appealing to our clients, and to ensure brands were run smoothly and successfully.

What technology is involved? 

To help kitchens embrace virtual brands, we keep things simple – we let the restaurants run the kitchen, and we do everything else. We use data to analyse order volume and demand in a client’s local area (based on insights from the major delivery platforms); from this we determine the best brand(s) for their facilities, helping to build a menu that is individually optimised.

Once the onboarding process is complete, we use performance dashboards to monitor key metrics that ensure our clients are receiving the maximum available benefit.

What’s more, rather than receiving orders through multiple applications (or even multiple devices) our partners can manage all their orders through a single platform that simplifies the multi-brand approach and saves time.

How many are on your team?

After two years of rapid growth, our team now totals more than 70 employees – all working to support clients, enhance our offering and expand our presence into new and existing markets.

What is the main goal? 

Since the start of the pandemic, we have seen hospitality businesses (restaurants, takeaways, pubs, etc.) shutting down at an alarming rate, while delivery platform giants like Uber Eats have gone from strength to strength. Our own research found that three-quarters of all hospitality businesses relied on takeaway services to survive the pandemic.

Virtual brands are a means to make more revenue from the same fixed overheads, and our mission is to help restaurants harness the full potential of delivery services, making the process painless and easy to undertake. We make access to training, support and strategy as easy as possible so that our clients have nothing left to worry about besides completing their new orders. 

Delivery franchising is an innovative solution that can bolster businesses that have suffered throughout lockdowns, social distancing, staff shortages, supply chain disruption, and now the cost-of-living crisis. Our methodology allows businesses to take on new brands alongside their existing menu and increase their revenue streams, with minimal disruption to their operations and no impact on their existing operations.

Our partners report making an additional £12,000-£57,687 each month after taking on a virtual brand – compelling evidence that what we are doing for our partners is working.

What makes your business different from others? 

We are ideally positioned to help existing hospitality businesses transition towards a multiple-brand setup, with the tools and expertise required for them to succeed. Our brands are licensed to operators to run alongside their existing kitchen operations, and our fast, simple training and continuing oversight and support make the transition easy. 

Our service goes beyond the implementation of a multi-brand approach – we continue to support businesses to ensure they continue to increase revenues and manage their increased order volumes smoothly and efficiently. Our technology is key, as is our supplier network.

We also carefully monitor market distribution to ensure that brands never directly compete with one another, rather increasing options in different areas and maximising overall order volumes throughout.

What has your funding journey been like so far? 

We opened the doors to angel and crowdfunding at the end of 2020, raising £230,000 six months after our first site went live and began selling to the public – beating our initial funding target within just 24 hours. Rounding out our first year of operations with £1.6m in marketplace sales and a month-on-month growth rate of 37%, we went on to raise £3m in a funding round led by Fuel.

Earlier this year, we closed our Series A funding round, which was supported by Stonegate Group, the UK’s largest pub company with around 4,500 sites nationwide. In this round, we raised £15m, which we have big plans for – expanding and improving our offering, ramping up our tech solutions and further fuelling our international expansion.

What have some of the biggest challenges been so far? 

The hospitality sector is admittedly fickle – so many trends appear and then disappear just as quickly that it is hard to keep up. The challenge for us has been to identify the emerging trends while phasing out the ones that in decline.

Luckily, we’ve been able to create an efficient process that allows us to develop a new brand within two weeks if we need to. Of course, we usually take our time, taking six weeks to ensure we’ve covered all possible bases. However, the fact we can develop a new brand to capitalise on an up-and-coming trend is certainly beneficial.

Further, we ensure the skills and ingredients we share with our partners are all transferrable, so they can quickly adapt their offerings to new trends. For example, we may offer a partner a chicken franchise, which means that they can easily adapt their key protein to another brand or trend like Mexican or Chinese. It’s this flexibility and emphasis on transferability that helps us stay on top of such fast-moving trends within the sector.

How has your business managed or adapted during COVID? 

While the pandemic might have seemed like the perfect time to grow our business, uncertainty within the sector and upstarts within the delivery franchising space meant that we got off to a rocky start. Covid, however, ultimately underlined and fuelled the demand for varied and quality delivery options, and the success of our clients is an encouraging sign of what’s to come.

In terms of our own operations, we had to adapt our onboarding process to get virtual brands up and running in kitchens remotely – while this proved successful, as restriction eased, we mostly returned to in-person onboarding, as there is no substitute for the hands-on personal approach. 

What do you have planned for the future? 

As we continue to refine our processes and grow at speed, it is becoming even easier to envision big things in our future. Our aim is to be one of the largest operators in the food service space – but at the same time, we don’t need consumers to have heard of us.

Given the rapid success we’ve experienced in the UK, we’re doubling down on the international stage. We established a strong presence within the US and UAE, opening offices there and taking on big-name brands in both countries. We also have our eyes set on Europe in the very near future, which our recent funding round has made a very real possibility.

Ultimately, however, our goal is to support hospitality businesses and the sector at large. Given the manifold challenges business owners have already faced and continue to endure, we want to keep working to make our solutions easier to onboard and more beneficial to our clients. We hope to see the rate of restaurant closure start to drop as more businesses boost their revenues and profits through the use of virtual brands

Startup Details

Startup Details


Peckwater Brands

Peckwater Brands is a provider of delivery franchises to kitchen operators. The company provides existing kitchen operators with fully-serviced food concepts which include branding, platform listings, suppliers, recipes, packaging, staff training, and technology. It was founded in 2019 in London, England.

  • Headquarters Regions
  • Founded Date
  • Founders
    Leo Bradshaw, Sam Martin
  • Operating Status
  • Number of Employees