Canada's Cara to buy St-Hubert BBQ chain

Thu Mar 31, 2016 6:56am EDT
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March 31 (Reuters) - Canada's Cara Operations Ltd, owner of the Swiss Chalet casual dining chain and Harvey's burger outlets, said on Thursday it would buy St-Hubert BBQ, one of Quebec's largest casual dining chains, for C$537 million ($415 million).

Toronto-based Cara, Canada's largest operator of full-service restaurants, went public a year ago and had indicated it was looking to expand through acquisitions.

Analysts had flagged privately held St-Hubert as one of the most likely targets for Cara, which is controlled by dealmaker Prem Watsa's Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd.

Both Swiss Chalet and St-Hubert are known for rotisserie chicken meals, but the two chains share little geographic overlap as most of St-Hubert's restaurants are in Quebec, where Swiss Chalet does not have a presence.

Cara has said it wants to boost revenue to between C$2.5 billion and $C3 billion in five to seven years, up from C$1.7 billion in 2014.

The acquisition of St-Hubert, which had system sales of C$620 million in 2015, will move Cara much closer to that target.

The move also gives Cara an opportunity to expand its offerings through grocery stores, where St-Hubert sells products such as marinades, pot pies, seasonings and desserts. ($1 = 1.29 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Euan Rocha in Toronto and Amrutha Gayathri in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)