UK

Little Chef Sold For £15m To Kuwaiti Food Group

05/08/2013 11:12 BST
PA
View of the logo for roadside restaurant Little Chef, at their branch in Oxford.

Little Chef, the British restaurant chain known for its roadside outlets, has been bought by a Kuwaiti-owned group.

The Kout Food Group (KFG) will pay around £15 million to snap up 81 of the Little Chef's 83 restaurants around Britain, after a three month sale process ran by private equity firm, Rcapital. Two sites will be retained by Rcapital for future development.

The Kuwaiti group JFG owns a number of brands including the Maison Blanc bakery and KFC outlets. Its UK chairwoman Fadwa Al Homaizi said it had “exciting plans to revitalise the Little Chef brand”.

The sale would potentially save 1,000 jobs across the 81 outlets and mark a new lease of life in the brand, after its long period of financial trouble ending it going into administration in 2007.

In 2002, Compass Group sold it to private equity firm Permira, who sold it again to People's Restaurant Group. TV chef Heston Blumenthal starred in a Channel 4 documentary in 2009 in which he tried to revive their menus, which were later dropped due to their unpopularity with customers.

Jamie Constable, chief executive of Rcapital, said: ‘Having owned Little Chef for a long time it feels like we are selling part of ourselves.

"But we take comfort that the new owners will take the brand to the next stage."

It is believed that many firms were interested in snapping up branches of little chef, including the Costa Coffee Chain, McDonalds, KFC and ex-Dragon James Caan.

Speaking to the Huffington Post UK, Caan said: "A British brand in the Middle East is typically well received and we had a lot of interest from our investor base to say we would back that venture with you. The fact that we're competing with McDonalds, Burger King and Pret a Manger [for Little Chef] so my instinct is they're probably going to be quite aggressive in their bid."