LONDON: Indian-Origin Billionaire Brothers Buy UK Fast Food Chain Leon

LONDON: Indian-Origin Billionaire Brothers Buy UK Fast Food Chain Leon

LONDON: Indian-origin billionaire
brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa have acquired a popular British fast food chain,
Leon, as part of what they described as their goal to grow their foodservice
operations in Britain.

The Issa
brothers, whose parents moved to the UK from Gujarat in the 1970s, own the Euro
Garages chain of petrol stations as part of their EG Group business. Last year,
they acquired leading UK supermarket chain Asda from US owners Walmart as part
of the strategy to expand their non-fuel business.

Founded by John Vincent, Henry Dimbleby and chef Allegra McEvedy in 2004,
pitches itself in the category of “naturally fast food” with a focus
on creating a healthy menu that tastes good, in a sustainable way. The
acquisition is said to be worth an estimated 100 million pounds.

is a fantastic brand that we have long admired. As established entrepreneurs in
the foodservice retail market ourselves, we have a huge admiration for the
business that John and the Leon team have built over the years, and firmly
believe that their culture and values closely align with our own,” said
Mohsin and Zuber Issa, co-founders and co-CEOs of the EG Group.

acquisition of Leon presents EG Group with a fantastic opportunity to further
develop the menu offer, the various concession formats including
drive-throughs, and will enable us to significantly build on the existing
network by exploring opportunities across our own sites along with other
strategic locations,” they said.

With an
extensive network of over 70 restaurants, Leon has 42 company-owned restaurants
operated on leasehold locations, with a strong presence in London as well as
other large cities across the UK.

addition, it has 29 franchised sites at key strategic transport hubs (mainly airports
and train stations) across Britain and five other European markets, principally
the Netherlands. Leon has also made itself accessible to consumers at home and
generates significant revenue from its branded cookbooks, own brand groceries
and provision of home delivery ready meals.

some ways this is a sad day for me, to part company with the business I founded
17 years ago in Carnaby Street (London). But I have had the pleasure of getting
to know Mohsin and Zuber across the last few years. They have been enthusiastic
customers of Leon, going out of their way to eat here whenever they visit
London,” said John Vincent.

are decent, hard-working business people who are committed to sustaining and
further strengthening the values and culture that we have built at Leon, a
business that has my dad’s name above the door.

and Zuber will not just be superb custodians of the Leon brand, through EG
Group they have the vision, investment appetite, foodservice expertise and
network scale to take Leon to many more people and places,” he said,
adding that he is confident the brand will “flourish” and expand its
appeal outside of London under the new ownership.

Prior to
the addition of the Leon store network, EG Group said it already operates over
700 foodservice outlets in the UK and Ireland of which 310 operate from
standalone premises.

the impact of COVID-19, the company said its foodservice business accounted for
46 per cent of the gross profit of the UK and Ireland division in 2020. The group’s
foodservice brand portfolio includes other third-party brands such as
Starbucks, KFC, Burger King, Greggs, Sbarro, Cinnabon and Subway.

The Issa
brothers added: “EG Group continues to identify innovative partnerships
and acquisitions that complement our existing consumer offer and enable us to
stay at the forefront of consumer trends, particularly in foodservice.

equity investment in Leon is to strengthen our own participation in the
fast-growing contemporary foodservice segment. This acquisition aligns with our
commitment to being a committed foodservice operator globally, delivers
financial benefit to our underlying business, and supports broader commercial
strategies to be able to better realise further growth opportunities.”

in 2001 by the Issa family, the EG Group employs over 44,000 people working
across more than 6,000 sites across Europe, US and Australia. The brothers,
Mohsin and Zuber, were each conferred with a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday
Honours List 2020, for their contribution to business and charity. 

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