Tycoon Lawrence is back at Out of Town

Lawrence Wosskow is back at the head of the Out of Town Restaurants chain that he sold for £25 million almost five years ago.

The Sheffield entrepreneur, who moved to Florida, following a heart attack last year, has acquired Rotherham-based Out of Town from administrators RSM Robson Rhodes, now part of Grant Thornton UK.

Out of Town is the UK's biggest shopping centre catering business, operating outlets which include Burger King, Potato Bakehouse, Fresh and Mamma Amalfi at locations which include the Meadowhall, Trafford, Bluewater and Metro shopping centres.

The group called in administrators in May when it hit difficulties after buying Madisons Coffee Bars, which has been sold separately.

Mr Wosskow has acquired outlets with a turnover of approximately 20 million and making profits of 2.25 million a year, saving around 600 jobs.

He plans to introduce new and innovative brands which he has found since moving to the US.

Mr Wosskow will remain in the US and Out of Town will be run by James Burdall, who was finance director at Bradwell's Ice Cream, the business which Lawrence Wosskow bought in 1992 and still owns.

Mr Burdall said: "This is a fantastic deal for us. The administrator closed all the poor performing units which has enabled us to buy back a very similar business to the one Lawrence made so successful before selling out in late 2002.

"We have a very solid base of 2.25 million profit with no debt as Lawrence has used his own funds for the purchase. We now intend to double the size of the business during the next three years creating a further 600 jobs by opening more units."

Out of Town will be targeting new as well as existing shopping centres and introducing new as well as existing brands.

Lawrence

Wosskow's career as a catering industry entrepreneur began when he became an investor in the Caf Rouge chain, which was sold to Whitbread for 140 million.

In

addition to setting up Out of Town, which employed more than 1,500 people at 50-plus outlets in 19 centres across Britain, including nine in Meadowhall, at the time he sold it, Mr Wosskow launched the Free Spirit chain of surfwear shops, selling it to Blacks Leisure for 1.5 million.

He

acquired Loseley Ice Cream from administrators, selling it on for 1.5 million and turned Bradwell's Ice Cream into the most profitable local ice cream manufacturer in the UK winning HSBC Business of the Year title in the process.

In

October 2005 he and Retford businessman Simon Heath acquired Little Chef from Travelodge for 52 million, going on to raise 60m by selling a number of Little Chef outlets to Israeli property business Arazim and leasing them back.

Mr

Wosskow disposed of his interest in Little Chef after suffering his heart attack. The company later went into administration and was rescued from financial collapse by RCapital, the UK-based finance group, in January of this year.