Boparan Ventures, the private investment vehicle of entrepreneur Ranjit Boparan, which currently backs the Harry Ramsden’s chain, is believed to have agreed to acquire the Giraffe restaurant business from Tesco.
As suggested yesterday by MCA yesterday, Boparan, who is best-known as the controlling shareholder of 2 Sisters Food Group, which is Britain’s biggest chicken supplier and the owner of Goodfella’s Pizzas, is believed to have beaten off competition from suitors including Luke Johnson to secure the c60-strong brand.
His company also backs the Fishworks brand and earlier this year acquired the three-strong Cinnamon Collection.
It is thought that Boparan will pay under half the £48.5m price that Tesco paid when it acquired Giraffe back in 2013. It is thought that the final value of the deal could be around £20m and that if successful Boparan will look to convert some sites to its existing brands.
It is understood that Boparan has been increasingly looking to make further inroads into the eating-out sector after the recent robust performance of Harry Ramsden’s and as another supply route to market as the retail side of its business experiences a slowdown.
Total sales for the 2 Sisters fell by 3.5% to £778.3m during the first quarter of its current financial year, while like-for-like sales were also down by 2.3% to £787.9m. The company also experienced a 17.7% decline in operating profits to £18.1m.
Giraffe was acquired by Tesco when it was led by Philip Clark. It was one of a series of smaller UK companies the group purchased in an effort to lure customers into its larger stores. Since then, Giraffe has failed to meet expectations and in December the unit posted a £4.1m loss for the full year, down from £100,000 the previous year.
It is not clear yet if the management team led by Tom Crowley will remain with the brand if a deal with Boparan is successfully completed.
Previous owner Luke Johnson, Casual Dining Group and Duke Street Capital were all believed to have run the rule over the business since Tesco brought it to the market earlier this year.
Current EBITDA for Giraffe is believed to be £3.6m, with a projected run rate of nearer £5m. Site EBITDA is currently thought to be running at c£7m. However of that, the jewel in the chain’s estate, its restaurant at Royal Festival Hall, contributes £2m.
At the same time, MCA understands that bids have been submitted for the supermarket chain’s café business Harris + Hoole, with a private equity firm, who will back the existing management team, believed have taken a lead in the process.
It is believed that Caffe Nero, which acquired three Harris + Hoole sites last year, has also shown an interest in securing further units from the business. Tesco acquired the remaining stake in Harris + Hoole from the Tolley family in January.