Hugh Osmond's Sun Capital has acquired 43 Strada restaurants from Tragus Group for £37m, it has been confirmed today.
The deal sees Osmond, who worked with Luke Johnson to float PizzaExpress in 1993 before founding Punch Taverns in 1997, take control of the restaurants through Strada Trading Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of SCP Strada Limited, which in turn is controlled by Sun Capital.
Osmond had been widely expected to take over the bulk of Strada's sites from Tragus after it put the 56-strong estate up for sale earlier this year. At the same time, the Tragus business underwent a restructuring that saw it enter company voluntary arrangements (CVAs) for 51 of its Bella Italia and Café Rouge sites with the aim of exiting 30-40 uneconomic leases.
"For us, this will be a story of investment and expansion. The menu will be seriously up-dated. The quality of ingredients and food will be dramatically improved. And there will be a major investment in the premises, giving a very different ambience.
"This is all about breathing new life into a great business."
The Strada restaurants come with their existing management team, led by James Spragg, and Sun Capital said it planned to invest in the 43 sites as well as expanding the Strada estate further. Customers will see a minor up-dating of the menu within a few weeks and some investment in the premises that need it most; but the full programme will roll-out in the New Year.
Meanwhile Tragus is expected to continue with its expansion of the Bella Italia brand, with 100 new sites planned for the next five years.