Little Chef sold to Kuwaiti firm Kout Food Group for £15 million

The restaurant chain went on sale in April by turnaround firm RCapital

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The Independent Online

The restaurant chain Little Chef will not disappear from Britain's roadsides after being snapped up by a Kuwaiti company for £15 million.

RCapital, who bought the chain in 2007, sold 81 sites to the UK arm of Kout Food Group, which owns Burger King and KFC outlets across the UK. RCapital will keep just two outlets.

The group has paid somewhat less than the £20 million first mooted when the chain was put up for sale.

Jamie Constable, Chief Executive of RCapital said the new owners would “take the brand to the next stage”. They will hope to capitalise on a breakfast and travel dining market estimated at £3 billion in the UK.

Fadwa Al Homaizi, Chairman of Kout Food Group Restaurants UK, said: “KGFR-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 are expected to keep the name Little Chef.

The firm's Fat Charlie mascot has been a familiar sight for UK motorists for more than 50 years until 2004, when the image was slimmed down by former Chief Executive Tim Scoble to take the restaurant "forward into the 21st century".

However, its future appeared uncertain when it was put up for sale earlier this year and fast food and coffee chains began viewing its sites.

Little Chef was established 50 years ago by entrepreneur Sam Alper. There are now 83 Little Chef chains located at the side of motorways across the UK, employing 1,100 staff.

In 2009 Little Chef became the focus of a Channel 4 documentary featuring celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal as he introduced a new menu to their Basingstoke site. Blumenthal's revamp of the menu and refit of the restaurant interior provided a model for a further ten new concept restaurants and a rebranding exercise was undertaken.

Despite this, the company still reported losses in 2012 and RCapital announced the chain would go through a "pre-pack administration" to offload failing leases, before being put up for sale in April 2013.

Additional reporting by PA