In December 1998, the management of Travellers Fare, the catering division of British Rail, won the bid to buy the business from its parent, supported by Cinven and other investors. The business comprised 270 catering units located at 140 railway stations and operating under several brands including Quicksnack, Upper Crust, Casey Jones, Healthy Treats and Hot Favourites among others. It had a 95% share of its niche market in rail travel food and beverage provision.
Although the experienced managed team had run the business successfully within the British Rail monopoly environment, following the sale it would be required to pay market rents. Efficiencies were called for if Travellers Fare were to be a long term, independent, viable business. The strategy involved renegotiating food costs; introducing a new EPOS system to control cash takings and improving the product mix. In addition wage rates for employees were reorganised and a new organisational structure put in place.
Travellers Fare performed outstandingly and further funding was subscribed by Cinven’s investors. In November 1992 the business was sold to Compass plc.
Multiple returned on investment: 3.5x