Benugo’s owner sold to US investor in £782m deal

A US investment firm is to fork out nearly £800 million to take a majority stake in the British hospitality company behind the Benugo, Hix and Searcys eateries.

Clayton, Dubilier & Rice is understood to be paying one billion US dollars (£782 million) for WSH Investments, which also specialises in catering.

The deal, which includes debt, will see WSH founder and chief executive Alastair Storey stay on board and comes at a time of acute uncertainty for British business amid Brexit strife.

Among the bevvy of food and catering brands WSH owns are Portico, Mere and Holroyd Howe, which provides food to schools.

Despite Brexit-fuelled economic turmoil and a spate of high-street insolvencies, including in the restaurant sector, WSH has performed well financially.

In the year to December 29 2017, accounts filed at Companies House show that WSH’s turnover jumped from £732 million to £828 million while earnings rose from £62 million to £65 million.

The latest investment from CD&R follows its last big play in the UK over 10 years ago, when it sold wholesaler Brakes Group to private equity firm Bain for 2.6 billion US dollars, having picked it up for 653 million US dollars.

Mr Storey, a hospitality industry veteran, founded WSH in 2000 and will retain a stake in the firm.