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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 July 2007, 12:26 GMT 13:26 UK
Little Chef firm 'must keep logo'
The old Little Chef logo (left) and proposed new one
Plans to slim down the logo in 2004 brought outrage from fans
The suitor of the Little Chef chain of roadside restaurants has been told that it must retain its famous logo or risk derailing the 25m deal, reports say.

Italy's Benetton family plans to buy the company but wants to rebrand it as Autogrill, the Sunday Telegraph said.

However in an eccentric move, Little Chef owners R Capital have made keeping the iconic brand and its "Fat Charlie" emblem a crucial part of the sale.

The chain has 195 outlets, 3,500 staff and about 20 million customers a year.

It would be a shame to do away with it and I can imagine that it would engender opposition
Cathy Stevenson,
Little Chef marketing manager

R Capital "wants to sell to a buyer who cares as much for the heritage of Little Chef as it does", a source told the paper.

If the Benetton family refused the demand, then the chain would be offered to other suitors, the paper said.

Convoluted history

In 2004 Little Chef announced plans to slim down the portly chef to try to improve the chain's image, but it did a U-turn after public outcry at its intentions.

"Little Chef is an iconic British brand and a lot of our staff have invested a great deal of time and effort to revitalise the logo over the years," marketing manager Cathy Stevenson told The Observer.

"It would be a shame to do away with it and I can imagine that it would engender opposition."

The Benetton family uses the Autogrill brand for its Italian motorway service station chain and had hoped to bring the name to the UK.

Little Chef went into administration in January, before being bought by R Capital.

Since its foundation in 1958, the firm has had a rather convoluted history that has involved it being passed between a number of different parent companies, including Granada and Compass.

Why the Little Chef chain is struggling

The road to recovery
05 Jan 07 |  Magazine
Little Chef enters administration
03 Jan 07 |  Business
Portly Little Chef to slim down
16 Aug 04 |  Business

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