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Billionaire Issa brothers swoop for fast food chain Leon

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Lucy Harley-McKeown
·2-min read
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LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2021/02/23: Leon a fast food chain logo seen in central London near the Tate Modern. (Photo by Petra Figueroa/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Mohsin Issa and Zuber Issa amassed a fortune with their petrol station business EG Group. The 70 Leon outlets will add to their growing portfolio of British businesses. Photo: Petra Figueroa/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The billionaire Issa brothers have moved to buy yet another UK high street staple with the £100m bid fast food chain Leon.

The sale comes just months after the pair bought supermarket giant Asda. 

Mohsin Issa and Zuber Issa amassed a fortune with their petrol station business EG Group. The 70 Leon outlets will add to their growing portfolio of British businesses. 

They also hit the headlines recently for moving to take over another UK high street chain, Caffe Nero. 

Leon was co-founded in 2004 by John Vincent, its incumbent CEO, Henry Dimbleby, and Allegra McEvedy, all of whom will pocket a premium for the sale. The Guardian reported that Vincent is in line for a windfall of £10m from his 10% holding. 

Vincent said in a statement: "In some ways this is a sad day for me."

"We have tried hard, done some good things, made a healthy amount of mistakes, and built a business that quite a few people are kind enough to say that they love," he added.

Leon has 42 company-owned restaurants operated on leasehold locations, with a particularly strong presence in London as well as other large cities across the United Kingdom. In addition, it has 29 franchised sites at key strategic transport hubs (mainly airports and train stations) across the UK and five other European markets, principally The Netherlands.

Sites have been largely shut over the past year due to the coronavirus pandemic, however the company donated food to NHS workers during this time.

The non-for-profit campaign raised vital funds and with partners delivered a million meals to key workers on the NHS front line during the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ MORE: UK hospitality chiefs warn on COVID passports in economy reopening plans

The high street chain was previously owned by private equity companies Active Partners and Spice Private Equity.

Following the acquisition, EG Group intends to invest in the Leon brand and broaden the current foodservice offer across the network. 

It has plans to open around 20 Leon sites per year from 2022 and also sees significant potential for Leon’s non-restaurant products across its convenience retail proposition.

Watch: Up to 1,200 jobs at risk as Asda plans to overhaul in-store bakeries