Dragon James Caan 'checking out Little Chef takeover'

 

Dragon's Den judge James Caan is reportedly considering a bid for the Little Chef chain of roadside restaurants in a move that could safeguard the future of the brand.

His private equity firm, Hamilton Bradshaw, is carrying out due diligence checks on the group, according to the Daily Telegraph. Little Chef was put up for sale by owner Rcapital in April.

It was reported last month that bidders including McDonald's, KFC and Costa Coffee were considering making an offer, but ditch the brand, which would see its Fat Charlie mascot disappearing from the roadside after 55 years.

Sources close to Mr Caan told the Telegraph that he was interested in saving the brand and expanding it in the UK, possibly securing many of its 1,100 jobs. The newspaper also reported that it could result in the franchise being expanded to the Middle East.

It is understood the expansion in the UK would include mobile sites on A-roads as well as fixed restaurants.

But it is believed Mr Caan does not want to buy all the Little Chef outlets and is prepared to work with another bidder.

He is said to be eyeing an offer in the range of between £10 million and £15 million.

However, sources close to the sale process said potential offers had already been received in excess of £20 million for the whole business.

The chain has undergone a major overhaul, including a menu revamp by celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal, since it plunged into administration in 2007 and was bought by Rcapital, a London-based private equity group.

Famous for its large "Olympic" breakfasts, Little Chef began life as an 11-seat restaurant in Reading, Berkshire, in 1958 and has had a string of owners including private equity group Permira.

It had 234 outlets with 4,000 staff at the time of its 2007 collapse.

But the chain now has just 83 sites from Devon to Scotland, serving about six million customers a year meals including steak and ale pies, fried breakfasts and baked potatoes.

Mr Caan, the Government's new social mobility tsar, was plunged into controversy this week after an interview in which he argued parents should not give their children a helping hand in finding jobs - only for it to emerge that he had employed his two daughters.

Hamilton Bradshaw was not immediately available for comment and Rcapital declined to comment.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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 Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Tax Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Tax Assistant is required to join a leading ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - OTE £25,000

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Developer - Watford - £45,000 - £47,000

£45000 - £47000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / ...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Product Manager - (Financial Services) - SW London

£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us