RCapital calls on Salans in bid to turn around Little Chef fortunes

Salans has scooped the lead role advising turnaround expert RCapital on the rescue of struggling UK roadside restaurant chain Little Chef.

Private equity house RCapital brokered a last-minute deal on Wednesday 3 January to acquire 194 of Little Chef’s restaurants from People’s Restaurant Group for an estimated £10m.

The deal followed shortly after PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was appointed as the administrator to People’s Restaurant Group, which owned 235 Little Chef restaurants. The remaining 40 restaurants remain in the control of the administrator. People’s Restaurant Group had suffered losses estimated at £3m over the past year, due in part to a £59m sale-and-leaseback deal with property investment company Arazim Investments on 65 freehold sites in February 2005. As part of the latest rescue bid and sale, Little Chef’s rental arrangements have been revised.

Salans, led by partner Bryan Green, advised RCapital on the majority purchase of the business, which currently employs 4,000 people. Green said: “There have been many legal and commercial issues to address in a relatively short period of time.”

DLA Piper, led by partner Mark Jackson, is advising PwC. The instruction follows the firm’s advice to People’s Restaurant Group, which is owned by catering entrepreneurs Lawrence Wosskow and Simon Heath, on its original £52m acquisition of Little Chef from Permira in 2005.

Arazim was advised by Fladgate Fielder.