La Tasca auction drew “several” bidders, reveals ex-owner

La Tasca

The former owner of La Tasca has revealed that it received “several bids” for the chain prior to it agreeing a reported £25m deal with the Casual Dining Group (CDG) last week.

Kaupthing, the Icelandic Bank that is the subject of winding-up proceedings, did not name the parties that had put their cash on the table, but confirmed that a “competitive auction process” had taken place since it decided to sell its stake in La Tasca.

Following that auction, it entered exclusive talks with the Casual Dining Group, which operates Bella Italia and Café Rouge, and acquired Las Iguanas last month.

Simon Wilkinson, CEO of La Tasca, said; “We are pleased with the strong interest in the business on the back of a very successful trading period which has seen UK EBITDA grow by over 90% during the last financial year. We are grateful to our owners who have supported the management team throughout the turnaround of the business. La Tasca has a strong core of high performing sites and I’m pleased the business has found a good home with CDG. I look forward to helping guide the business through its next stage of development.”

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La Tasca will help increase CDG’s store footprint to more than 280 restaurants in the UK.

CDG said it expects the deal to be concluded in the coming weeks. With 40 stores acquired through the Las Iguanas deal and a similar number gained from La Tasca, CDG will be able to boast a 280-strong restaurant footprint in the UK. The company said this makes it UK’s number one privately-owned casual dining business.

It intends to use the acquisitions to kick-start an organic growth plan that will see 52 major refurbishments completed on its existing estate within the next six months and 30 new restaurants open within the next 12 months.

Beyond this the company has confirmed a “very strong” pipeline of new restaurant openings driven by the strong demand it is experiencing from leading landlords, who are keen to secure its brands on the UK’s leisure parks, shopping and travel hubs and prime high street locations.

CDG’s CEO, Steve Richards, said: “We are pleased to have been able to conclude the purchase of La Tasca; the business operates in some excellent locations and this acquisition strengthens our high street portfolio of restaurants.”

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