Little Chef – the convenience restaurant chain – is to be sold by turnaround firm R Capital, six years after it first entered administration.
The company, which has seen a return to profitability after the closure of over 100 restaurants and a revamp of the menu now has a core group of 78 restaurants.
R Capital introduced an Express takeaway service and the help of celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal to revitalise the company’s fortunes.
KPMG’s corporate finance team has been drafted in to assist the firm with a sale and the weekend press reported that three firms have already expressed an interest in acquiring the business.
Business commentators have suggested that interested parties include coffee companies and service station operators such as Moto and Welcome Break.
In a statement issued to the press, a spokesman for R Capital confirmed it has successfully completed an operational turnaround and financial restructuring, which has “repositioned the business and brought the group of companies back into profitability”.
It added: “The move was part of a long-term critical rebuild strategy to create consistently profitable sites against the backdrop of one of the worst recessions in living memory. With the turnaround successfully completed it’s time to explore the next phase for the food service operator.”
Little Chef employs 1100 staff and serves more than 6 million customers a year and is made up 83 sites across Britain’s A-roads from Devon to Scotland.
The history of Little Chef stretches back to 1958 when it opened its first site in Reading comprised of a food bar and 11 seats. By its peak in the eighties, the group had grown to over 230 branches.