Issa brothers pick up restaurant business Leon

Expansive Lancashire retail business EG Group has acquired the healthy eating-led fast food chain, announcing plans to open 20 new locations a year from 2022.

Founded in 2004, Leon now has a network of more than 70 restaurants, 42 of them company-owned and operating on leasehold arrangements; the remainder being franchises at transport hubs.

The deal has been reported as worth around £100m.

The majority of Leon’s sites are in London, with just two at this point in the North West, at Cheshire Oaks and immediately outside Manchester Piccadilly’s main entrance.

EG said the acquisition is complementary to its strategy of seeking significant growth in its non-fuel and foodservice operations. Along with the restaurant business, the company generates revenue from branded cookbooks, own-brand groceries and home delivery ready meals, something EG is keen to grow.

EG Group is still awating CMA clearance for its £6.8bn takeover of Asda, but has also struck a £750m deal for the grocer’s forecourts business. The Blackburn-headquartered company already operates more than 700 foodservice outlets in the UK & Ireland, of which 310 operate from standalone premises, with the foodservice business accounting for 46% of gross profit of its UK & Ireland division in 2020.

Third party brands in EG’s portfolio include Starbucks, KFC, Burger King, Greggs, Sbarro, Cinnabon and Subway.

In a statement, Mohsin and Zuber Issa, co-founders of EG Group, said: “Leon is a fantastic brand that we have long admired.

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

“Our 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.”

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