Drivers across Britain will be familiar with Little Chef and Travelodge, which the venture capitalist Permira bought in February for £712m from Compass, the food-service giant. The first Travelodge opened in 1985 in the Midlands, and now 234 branches offer more than 12,500 rooms. Little Chef opened as a single outlet with 11 seats in 1958. It has served sausage and chips to generations of travellers and now gets through 26m sausages a year. Travelrest reported sales of £368m in 2002 and turned the previous year’s operating loss into a profit of more than £100m.
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