British cafe chain buys French

AFTER SERVING steak and frites for more than 20 years, Chez Gerard has finally added a new dish to its menu: Le takeover.

Yesterday, the London French food chain announced it was buying Richoux, a chain of Gallic-style cafes from its owners , the Da Costa family, for pounds 7.25m.

The acquisition signals the desire by Chez Gerard's (British) owners to enter the middle market for French food, which at present is dominated by the Cafe Rouge and the Dome chain, owned by Whitbread.

Chez Gerard chairman and founder Neville Abraham said: "Richoux takes us quickly into the pounds 5-15 a head market and is less dependent on highly- skilled staff," helping the company to keep down costs.

It would also help Chez Gerard to weather the effects of any economic downturn, which, traditionally pushes people away from expensive restaurants towards cheaper alternatives. Richoux had sales of pounds 5.97m and a pretax profit of pounds 308,000 last year

Chez Gerard said it planned to open at least four new Richoux restaurants over the next two years to capitalise on the current trend for cheap French food.

But the company will face stiff competition from other operators such as Cafe Flo and the Pelican Group, owner of Dome and Cafe Rouge, which was bought by Whitbread for pounds 133m in 1996.

The Pelican Group runs 145 restaurants throughout the country and plans to open a further 19 in 1998-99. It employs more than 3,500 people.

Chez Gerard is a much smaller concern and has so far targeted a richer audience. It owns six restaurants of the same name in central London, which specialise in steak, chips and vintage French wine. The company also runs two fish eateries in London, called Livebait.

Founded by Mr Abraham, a former wine merchant, and Lawrence Isaacson, a marketing specialist, in 1990 through the purchase of three French restaurants in London, Chez Gerard has grown in less than 10 years in a pounds 20m a year public company quoted in the London stockmarket. It now cooks more than 250,000 steaks a year for more than a million customers.

The founders expanded the company gradually through a careful selection of prime London sites and have always ruled out an expansion to other parts of the country. Mr Abraham said the recipe for Chez Gerard success was simple. "Our customers can get excellent steak and frites and a bloody good bottle of French wine."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: KS2 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee