The man who helped rescue Little Chef has told other businesses you won’t get fried by reality television.
Peter Ward has witnessed at first hand the huge impact Channel 4 documentary Big Chef Takes On Little Chef has had on the chain after his turnaround company RCapital paid £9 million to save the road side restaurateurs from administration in 2007.
The series saw Michelin-starred chef Heston Blumenthal revamp the Little Chef menu and the look of its restaurants under the watchful eye of chief executive Ian Pegler and has given the business a major lift according to Ward.
Speaking at a CBI West Midlands senior executive lunch hosted by Acua Limited at Coventry University’s TechnoCentre, he said: “It is a high risk strategy but one I would recommend to businesses when they feel they are ready.
“In fairness to Ian when he joined the business we had already committed to the programme with Channel 4 so it was sort of a poison chalice for him to pick up, but one he was very happy to and in the case of Little Chef it has been hugely successful for us.”
Ward, who has completed 25 investments in six years since launching RCapital with business partner Jamie Constable, said he would not hesitate to use reality television again.
“The impact of bringing someone like Heston Blumental to Little Chef, who was not an obvious match for the brand as he is seen as being a bit of a scientist in the kitchen, has been extremely positive and has given the business a big lift,” he added.
“While 93 per cent of the public recognised the brand name of Little Chef before the programme we didn’t have 93 per cent of the public going to Little Chef, but now we obviously have a lot more following the television programme.
“We have got one or two other businesses we are invested in that we would certainly do something similar to what we did with Little Chef if the opportunity ever arose.”