Up to 600 jobs to go as Little Chef shuts 67 branches

 

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The Independent Online

Roadside restaurant chain Little Chef is to close 67 of its 161 sites in a move expected to lead to the loss of between 500 and 600 jobs.

The sites earmarked for closure have been trading unprofitably for a number of years due to "a variety of economic and locational factors", the company said, but remaining sites are all trading profitably.

The 500 to 600 jobs lost will be a mixture of full and part-time roles at sites across the country and will leave a workforce of around 1,500.

Little Chef was saved by turnaround group RCapital when it fell into administration in 2007. RCapital bought the majority of the business and assets, saving 193 of the 235 restaurants and more than 3,500 jobs. In 2008 several branches were revamped by Michelin-starred chef Heston Blumenthal as part of a Channel 4 show.

The firm said the decision to close the sites was not taken lightly, but was "essential" to allow it to focus on developing its remaining sites, introducing the New Concept – revamping restaurants including the "Heston-treatment" – and targeting new sites.

It said its plan was to expand its business by opening and introducing new sites over the coming years. The statement added: "Overall, Little Chef continues to trade strongly."

Chairman Graham Sims said: "When we acquired Little Chef four years ago we inherited a number of sites with leases that were uncompetitive. Despite very hard work from some very committed colleagues we have been unable to lift the performances of these sites to a level where they are viable."

 

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