Little Chef in big trouble as two sites set to close

Little Chef on A5 Fenny Stratford End due for closure
Little Chef on A5 Fenny Stratford End due for closure

STAFF working at two Little Chef restaurants in the Milton Keynes area have been left shocked after being given the axe.

The roadside restaurant chain announced last week that 67 of its 161 sites, many of which had been trading unprofitably for a number of years, would be closing.

It is thought that around 30 full and part-time staff across the three sites closest to Milton Keynes will be made redundant. However the site at Fenny Stratford will be open until January 31.

Closures at Old Stratford, Fenny Stratford and Marston Moretaine now mean the closest restaurant will be in Towcester.

One employee, who did not want to be named, said: “I am surprised they have closed three all in one area. The nearest one to MK now is in Towcester.

“We have nine people working in the Milton Keynes restaurant, plus another one on maternity leave.

“It is a bit of a blow. Management have said we are closing because the restaurant is not productive enough and the rent in MK is quite expensive.

“It seems like they waited to get the Christmas and New Year out of the way before they made these cuts.

“There has been plenty of speculation, but it still was a bit of bit of a shock.”

Graham Sims, chairman of Little Chef said: “When we acquired Little Chef four years ago we inherited a number of sites with leases that were uncompetitive. Despite very hard work from some very committed colleagues we have been unable to lift the performances of these sites to a level where they are viable.

“Consequently, following a thorough review in which we considered all the options it is with regret that we have had to close a number of sites.

“This means some people’s jobs are at risk throughout the organisation. We will do everything in our power to help every individual find alternative employment within the Little Chef organisation. I know this will be tough and an uncertain time for many people in our team.”

Around 600 jobs across the country will be lost in total but management have said they will be looking to re-deploy as many staff as possible at their ‘stronger’ sites.

Mr Sims added: “By closing these sites we will be able to focus our attention on protecting over 1,500 of our colleagues’ jobs and enabling our investments to be targeted on our remaining strong sites and to develop our brand and our New Concept – towards which the customer response has been very positive.”

The Little Chef business went into administration back in 2007 and was later bought out by RCapital.

A year later, in 2008, it famously drafted in celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal to improve its image and menu as part of a Channel 4 show, but his efforts failed to boost the brand.

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