SOUTH AFRICA – Famous Brands has bought 51% of Lupa Osteria, a chain of three Italian restaurants in KwaZulu-Natal, for an undisclosed amount.

The purchase amount fell below the JSE’s threshold for “categorised transaction” and would be settled in cash, the restaurant franchisor said on Monday.

All suspensive conditions had been fulfilled and the effective date of the transaction would be May 1.

“Trading is buoyant in all three existing restaurants, with high levels of consumer acceptance, positive feedback and repeat business,” Famous Brands CEO Darren Hele said.

“In the short term our plan is to grow Lupa’s footprint to six restaurants in KwaZulu-Natal; over the long term, we believe that a network of 35 restaurants in SA and select African countries is achievable.”

Lupa Osteria was founded by Guy Cluver and Chris Black who operate restaurants in Hillcrest, Westville and Durban North.

The name Lupa — the she-wolf synonymous with and symbolic of Rome — was chosen to indicate the chain served Roman-style food, as opposed to other variants of Italian cuisine, Mr Cluver said.

Mr Hele said: “Over the past year our stated strategy has been to explore and capitalise on opportunities in the casual dining category — one of the quickest-growing segments in the restaurant industry over the past decade.

Our more recent acquisitions, including the Mythos brand, demonstrate our progress in pursuit of this goal.”

April 25, 2016;