Dragon to breathe new life into Little Chef?

James Caan - and his daughters, presumably - are reported to be planning a bid for Little Chef.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 23 Aug 2013

There aren't many entrepreneurs who can bounce back from a major national embarrassment only to launch a bid for a major national food chain a couple of days later - but as MT has previously reported, if anyone can, James Caan.

The Dragon, who's currently a big cheese in the recruitment and private equity worlds, is rumoured to be planning a bid for Little Chef, the troubled roadside food chain not even Heston Blumenthal could save.

Apparently Caan is considering a bid of between £10m- £15m for the chain, which has 1,100 employees across 83 sites.

The chain was taken over by RCapital in 2007, which immediately cut its workforce by almost three-quarters and closed two-thirds of its diners. But despite the provate equity firm's best efforts - which also included wheeling in celeb chef Blumenthal - it turns out that these days, the UK's drivers prefer burgers to the all-day fry-up.

If Caan does get his hands on the business, he'll be saving it from the clutches of McDonald's, KFC and Costa Coffee, all of which are reported to be interested in buying the chain for its property assets and rebranding them under its own name. Although unless he can bring about a sudden national passion for ham, egg and chips, Caan's ownership risks dragging out what already looks like a long, slow death.

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