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RoadChef extends motorway network through takeovers

Motorway services operator RoadChef has gobbled up two of its smaller rivals in an £80m deal.

Blue Boar, which ran three service areas, including Watford Gap on the M1, and Take A Break, which operated one site on the M5 at Strensham, Worcestershire, employed a total of 800 staff. Their combined operating profit was £6.1m on turnover of £64m last year.

Tim Ingram Hill, chairman and chief executive of RoadChef, said he had wanted to buy both Blue Boar and Take A Break for a long time. “With the size of the market they had, it was inevitable that at some stage they would feel exposed,” he added.

The acquisitions would also give RoadChef a stronger presence in the “volume part of the market” on key motorways, and in the eastern half of the country, said Ingram Hill.

The deal takes yearly turnover at RoadChef – itself acquired by Japanese securities firm Nikko Europe for £175m in May – past the £200m mark. It now runs 17 sites with three more under construction.

Blue Boar was originally a family-owned business but sold out to a management team in 1995. Take A Break was developed by Kenning Motor Group and sold to managers in 1994. RoadChef put in an unsuccessful bid at the time.

Blue Boar has a fourth site under development on the M6 near Stafford.

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