Three bidders in frame to gobble up Tootsies

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The Independent Online

Clapham House, the AIM-listed restaurant group that runs the Gourmet Burger Kitchen, is believed to have received offers for its Tootsies burger operation.

Three suitors, thought to be from the private equity world, are believed to have tabled an interest in Tootsies, right. An official sale process could begin after the Christmas break.

Clapham House had sought to sell Tootsies earlier in the year but abandoned the attempt because of adverse market conditions. In July, it sold its Bombay Bicycle Club business for £4.4m to the rival Tiffinbites Indian food chain.

Interest in Tootsies, which operates 16 restaurants in the South of England, has been reignited by the group's strong performance during the downturn. A City source said: "Whereas you might have spent £20 on a meal a while back, a cheaper burger option might be preferable. That's why private equity groups have now returned to the table."

Clapham House shares, 25 per cent of which are owned by an investment vehicle run by the Nandos food chain, have jumped from 61p at the start of December, closing on Friday at 86p.