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Asda has made an equity investment in foodservice brand-making startup Lean Kitchen Network. The startup will use the funding boost to grow its business, helping large hotel operators, restaurants and pub chains turn under-utilised kitchen space into ‘on-trend’ eateries for on-site and takeaway customers.

Asda will also partner exclusively with LKN to establish “tech-driven food-for-now counters”, initially in four London stores: Park Royal, Colindale, Bexley and Edmonton.

Customers will order food at LKN’s touch-screen kiosk or on their mobile phone by scanning a QR code, and wait for it to be made in the store’s kitchen or collect their order at the end of their shop. The counters will also offer orders for delivery via Uber Eats.

The supermarket has invested in LKN alongside hospitality investor Edition Capital, ahead of a larger Series A funding round later this year.

Asda went into partnership with LKN in December with the launch of an LKN brand café concept – House of Yum – at its Clapham Junction store.

LKN is behind several restaurant brands including burger brand Twisted London, plant-based brand WTF!, and gourmet chicken brand Hot Chick.

The company also works with brands such as PepsiCo, Heinz and Doritos, to bring their products to the delivery market through branded restaurants, like the Dorito’s Diner nacho bar and a Heinz breakfast offering.

Asda shoppers at the four stores “can expect to see LKN develop new concepts as part of a dynamic menu that will represent foodservice firsts” the supermarket said.

The investment is part of Asda’s ‘test and learn’ partnership strategy, for which it is working with category experts and popular brands to “broaden the destination appeal of its stores”.

Asda chief strategy officer Preyash Thakrar said the strategy is “anchored around collaborating with innovative businesses like Lean Kitchen Network to bring new products and services to customers”.

“Investing in the business is the natural next step in our relationship and we look forward to working with them as they drive positive change in the food-for-now market, leading to greater choice and improved quality for consumers,” Thakrar said.

The value of the investment was not disclosed.

Faraz Nagree, CEO and founder of Lean Kitchen Network, said Asda’s backing was a “big step forward” for the company.

“Their unparalleled expertise and buying scale, combined with our digital and food development capabilities, will be truly disruptive for food-for-now and delivery as we grow at pace,” he said.

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