Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to launch organic food chain
An organic food chain backed by celebrity chef and TV presenter Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall will make its debut within the next two months.

The Natural Kitchen will open its first store on Marylebone High Street in London.

The£500,000 start-up capital is understood to have been provided by financiers Harvinder Hungin and Elliot Bernerd - who together co-ordinated the£2.1 billion privatisation of property investment group Chelsfield Partners in 2003.

Industry sources said that the company had plans to open up to 40 stores across the UK. The Natural Kitchen is understood to be on the hunt for a second location in the vicinity of London's Spitalfields Market.

The ethos behind the chain is to provide fresh organic food that will replicate the best of what is on offer at outlets such as Borough Market in southeast London.

Retail Knowledge Bank senior partner Robert Clark said: 'The market is certainly going that way - consumers are interested and the supermarkets are going into organic ranges in a big way.'

He added: 'If they're really going for it and have significant backing, I would think it would have to open at the rate of about 20 a year.'

If successful, the company could rival US group Whole Foods Market, which is scheduled to open its first Whole Foods-branded supermarket in the UK in June. The store will open at the former Barkers department store site on High Street Kensington in London.

The Whole Foods Group also owns the six-store Fresh & Wild chain of organic food shops that operates in London.

The Natural Kitchen declined to comment.