Cafe Rouge owner Tragus swallows Strada

LONDON Thu May 31, 2007 1:31pm BST

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LONDON (Reuters) - Tragus, the private equity-owned restaurant group which runs Cafe Rouge and Bella Italia, said on Thursday it had brought the Strada chain for 140 million pounds from clothing tycoon Richard Caring.

Caring, who owns London's swanky Ivy and Le Caprice eateries and once gave 190,000 to charity to have dinner with Elton John, bought Strada for 60 million pounds from the Signature restaurant group less than two years ago.

Tragus, bought up by private equity firm Blackstone Group for 267 million pounds in December, said that in addition to the 50 Strada restaurants, the deal also included five Belgo and Bierodrome outlets and takes its total number of restaurants to over 230.

Tragus chief executive Graham Turner told Reuters he was looking to treble the number of Strada restaurants in the coming years and was likely to ramp up the rate of openings.

"Our aim is to grow at more than 10 a year and we see a potential for at least 150 units in the UK."

He said the firm would continue to buy up rival chains.

"This acquisition highlights the kind of thing we would like to do and we will continue, both opportunistically and strategically to look at potential acquisitions."

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