Little Chef To Go Halal? : Bought By Kuwaiti Food Group
After more than 50 years of providing food for British travellers,the restaurant chain is taken over by a Middle Eastern firm!
Is this going to be yet another food outlet to be avoided if they decide to take pork products of the menu and introduce Halal?
The Little Chef chain of roadside restaurants has been sold to a Kuwaiti restaurant group.
The company went up for sale in April, six years after it was rescued from administration.
During that time there were several attempts to revive its position in the market as one of the main providers of snack foods for people on the move around Britain.
Celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal was among those recruited to inject new life into its traditional menu of mainly fried breakfasts and burgers.
But the chain had been struggling for some time to compete with the other fast food chains and supermarkets that were increasingly occupying motorway service stations.
Now Kuwait restaurant owner Kout Food Group Restaurants UK Limited (KFGR-UK) has bought the company for an unknown amount.
It was rumoured to be on the market for ‘tens of millions of pounds’.
KFGR-UK takes over a group, famous for its ‘Fat Charlie’ logo, that has been slimmed down from more than 400 at its peak to 83 sites beside A-roads all over Britain, all of which are believed to be profitable.
Heston Blumenthal was brought in to revive the fortunes of Little Chef
The seller, venture capital group RCapital, said it was confident that KFGR-UK would continue to rejuvenate Little Chef’s fortunes.
RCapital CEO Jamie Constable said: “Since we put Little Chef up for sale people have asked us, why sell the business?
“The answer is very simple. We are specialists in reversing the fortunes of businesses with significant financial and operational problems.
“We turn businesses around, we rebuild and fix them, that’s our business.
“When we bought the chain, it needed huge changes to revive the business and bring it back to profitability.
“Having owned Little Chef for a long time it feels like we are selling part of ourselves.
“But we take comfort from the fact that the new owners will take the brand to the next stage.”
KFGR-UK said it had ambitious plans for the company.
Chairperson Fadwa al Homaizi, said: “KFGR-UK has exciting plans to revitalise the Little Chef brand.
“Little Chef will benefit from a process of brand renewal in keeping with current trends, supported by traditional British values.”
Kout Food Group runs several branches of Burger King, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell in its home country.
It also operates a portfolio of Middle Eastern brands such as Ayyame, Kabab-ji, Burj Al Hamam and the ice cream parlour Scoop A Cone.
Little Chef employs 1,100 staff and has sites across Britain’s A-roads.
After trialling Blumenthal’s meals in 2009, his new menus were rolled out to several branches. It is not known if his menus will continue to be served.