Caan considers bid for Little Chef

Little ChefDragon'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.
%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%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 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.

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Caan considers bid for Little Chef

The Monaco-based billionaire is said to be worth more than £4.2bn, with Topshop and Topman among the country's most successful brands. His first job, aged 12, was working for a shoe importer. He set up his first business at 15 with a £20,000 loan, on-selling imported jeans from the Far East to London-based retailers.

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Author of the hugely successful Harry Potter series, Joanne Kathleen Rowling, has a net worth of £560 million – making her the world's richest author. Rowling wrote the first Potter books on a manual typewriter while a single mother living on benefits. The manuscript for the first Harry Potter novel was rejected by 12 publishers and when finally accepted, Rowling received an advance of just £1,500. Harry Potter is the highest-grossing film series of all-time and the brand has been estimated to be worth as much as £10 billion.

East-ender Lord Sugar, best known for his no-nonsense judging on BBC1s The Apprentice, started his career at 16, selling car aerials and electrical goods out of a van he had bought with savings of £50. In 1968 at the age of 21, Sugar started home electronics company, Amstrad (short for Alan Michael Sugar Trading). By the age of 40 he was worth about £600m. Sir Alan sold Amstrad in 2007, and is now worth a reported £770m, with much of his wealth coming from his extensive property empire.

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