Herberts sell fast food empire to Blackburn billionaire

The EG Group has acquired 146 KFC outlets from the Herberts. Picture by Hugh Russell.
The EG Group has acquired 146 KFC outlets from the Herberts. Picture by Hugh Russell. The EG Group has acquired 146 KFC outlets from the Herberts. Picture by Hugh Russell.

ONE of the north’s richest couples have sold their fast food empire for an undisclosed sum.

Michael Herbart and his wife Lesley owned the largest KFC franchise in the UK and Ireland. Their relationship with the US food giant dates back 39 years.

Their 146 KFC restaurants and around 4,000 staff have now transferred to the Blackburn-based EG Group.

The acquisition also includes a Pizza Hut store, a development pipeline and a number of non-trading sites.

The EG Group owns an international portfolio of petrol forecourts and convenience retail stores. It is run by billionaire brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa.

While Michael Herbert is often considered the central figure in the family-owned business empire, it is his wife Lelsey who ultimately control’s Herbert Corporate Holdings Ltd, the parent company for most of their business interests.

The latest set of accounts for the company showed it recorded a turnover of £182.8 million for the 12 months to December 23 2018, with a pre-tax profit of £9.6m for the same period.

The Herberts are also active in the Northern Ireland property sector, through their firm Kirk Bryson & Co.

Commenting on the deal, EG Group chief executive Zuber Issa, said: “Securing The Herbert Group portfolio is well aligned to our long-term strategic growth plans and builds on our commitment to grow the EG Group’s presence in the food-to-go retail convenience segment.

“The Herbert Group portfolio is a great strategic addition and complements our expanding operations in the United Kingdom and furthermore, now allows us entry into the Irish market.”

Paula McKenzie, general manager of KFC’s Irish and UK operation said: “I’d like to personally thank all of the Herbert Group team for their partnership and contribution to our brand over the last 39 years. We’re pleased that EG Group have acquired these restaurants – it shows confidence in investing in KFC and comes at an exciting time for our brand, off the back of unprecedented sales growth in 2020 so far.

“The acquisition demonstrates EG Group’s ability to be a partner of choice and we’re looking forward to supporting them as they unlock further investment and growth in the years ahead.”

DWF provided legal advice to the Herberts throughout the deal. Belfast-based Ken Rutherford led the legal team.

"Having worked closely with The Herbert Group for the last 10 years we are delighted to have played such a key role in this landmark sale and we wish the KFC business every success under its new ownership," he said.

Michael Herbert added: "The successful conclusion of this acquisition demonstrates the value of our long-standing relationship with DWF. The professional counsel and support provided by Ken and his team, together with DWF’s jurisdictional reach, has been instrumental in helping us reach today’s outcome.”

Osborne King acted as property advisors on the deal.