Investors scoop up shares in ice cream

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The Independent Online

Two former investment bankers who swapped their high-flying world of international corporate finance to set up an ice-cream factory in Wiltshire floated their business yesterday on AIM.

Charles and Gina Hall, who founded Hill Station, a luxury ice-cream business, in 1996 after ditching their careers at JP Morgan, have raised £1.4m as part of the float.

Their ice cream is sold in upmarket department and food stores such as Harvey Nichols, as well as restaurants including London's OXO Tower Brasserie. The company has also branched out into supermarkets. Mr Hall said: "Häagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry's were imported to the UK some time ago, but when we looked in the chiller cabinet, we couldn't see any good premium British brands.... So we went to college, learnt how to make good quality ice cream and got started. We now sell in more than 1,000 locations."

The money from the float will be used to boost its marketing and advertising spend.

The couple want to build another factory to increase their capacity. Hill Station's shares listed at 8p and ended at 9.25p, giving the company a market capitalisation of £5.5m. Mr and Mrs Hall each hold a 17.3 per cent stake.