Restaurant Deal Frenzy Sees BC Buy £250m Cote

A frenzied period for takeovers of British restaurant chains will continue this week when Cote, the bistro chain, is sold to BC Partners in a £250m deal.

Sky News understands that BC, a big private equity group, is in advanced and exclusive talks to buy the fast-growing business less than two years after CBPE Capital, another private equity group, acquired a controlling stake.

The transaction will crystallise a big windfall for CBPE despite its brief ownership of Cote, and underline the continuing wave of interest in fast-growing assets in the restaurants sector.

Cote, which‎ trades from 65 sites in the UK, is among a large number of chains that have tapped into a long-term growth trend which has seen consumer spending on eating out increase by an average annual rate of 4.5 per cent.

Established by backers including Richard Caring, the rag-trade tycoon who ‎became arguably Britain’s most influential restaurateur through his ownership of London sites The Ivy, Scott’s and Le Caprice, Cote opened its first site less than a decade ago.

People close to the deal said Cote was expected to generate sales of close to £110m and pre-tax profits of more than £20m in the year to the end of July.

BC Partners is understood to believe that there is scope to triple the number of Cote outlets in the UK, despite the growth of rival restaurant operators.

It has been involved in talks to buy the business for some time, sources said.

‎A large number of chains have changed hands or launched sale processes in the last year, including Ask, La Tasca, Las Iguanas, Prezzo, TGI Friday’s and Yo! Sushi.

An insider said on Monday that BC’s purchase of Cote could be announced later this week.

BC and CBPE declined to comment.