Whitbread has completed the sale of TGI Friday’s, transforming the company into one predominantly focused on budget hotels and coffee shops.
The £70.4m sale to US giant Carlson Restaurants Worldwide, which owns the brand and runs the restaurants directly in the USA, and financier ABN Amro Capital, was originally agreed in January.
However the deal, which also included a sale and leaseback of 15 of the 45 restaurants to British Land, needed the nod from European Union competition authorities before it could proceed.
This, said Whitbread finance director Christopher Rogers on Friday (2 March), had now been received.
Majority shareholder ABN has hinted some elements of the US brand could be brought over to help develop the chain, which has been struggling in the UK for some time.
Jonathan Doughty, managing director of the Coverpoint food consultancy, said: “They will probably have to rebuild the brand from the grassroots back up and decide what it is going to be in the UK.”
“In the US it has been much more accessible and more neighbourhood, but in the UK it has been pitched at the premium end, which is now well-populated.”
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By Nic Paton
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Published by: The Caterer