Is Kuwait’s Little Chef acquisition haram?

Even at a cheap as chips price, Kuwait’s acquisition of Little Chef is a bit fishy

Kuwait-based Kout Food Group’s acquisition of British roadside dining chain Little Chef for the cheap as chips sum of $23m raises some big questions.

The eateries, known for their Olympic-sized fried breakfasts, were originally bought out by private equity firm RCapital in 2007. After some substantial efforts to trim the fat off the company, including closing two-thirds of its 234 outlets, RCapital has somehow returned this once noble British institution to profitability. That is not forgetting roping in the help of celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal along the way.

While I personally wish the best of success to Kout, which also runs some KFC and Burger King restaurants in the UK and Kuwait, I do find something quite fishy about all of this.

Glancing at Little Chef’s menu, a lot of it seems to be based on pork products, whose consumption we all know is prohibited in Islam. Obviously Muslim customers have the option of requesting meals without pork, although I do not know if Little Chef serves halal meat generally.

As a Kuwaiti firm though, does Kout not have some kind of obligation to guide its investments by Sharia principles?

In the past we’ve seen companies bend to Islamic rules. For example, following its tie-up with Emirates Airline, Australia’s Qantas removed pork items from its menu on flights into Dubai.

Pork is probably not the only thing about Little Chef’s menu that Kout will want to have a think about, if some recent reviews are anything to go by.

While many of the customers were obviously happy with the experience, one visitor to the TripAdvisor website was less than pleased and described the dining at Little Chef experience as “utterly revolting”, with “slow service, filthy toilets [and] disgusting food”. Another customer was apparently left similarly unimpressed, saying they later “spent most of the night vomiting and running to [the] toilet” after consuming its fish and chips meal.

That is certainly something Kout will want to chew over in the coming months.

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Posted by: Zaid

I agree. Although is generally great, there is an occasional tendency for standards to slip. Come on people!

Posted by: nmk

Why is there so much hatred for this article? It's a comment piece, not hard news - it's raising a question for debate. If you disagree with what he's saying, explain why, don't just abuse him.

I think he raises a valid point. As a Muslim, I believe people have the right to choose what they eat, no matter what their religion. If they are also Muslim and choose to eat pork, that's up to them and their relationship with the religion. Kout probably feels the same way, so in that respect they might not have a case to answer.

But as a Muslim, I would also never put myself in a position where I am encouraging, advertising, or making money out of people eating pork, drinking beer, and so on. But Kout have - in fact they have actively set out to do so. Ultimately it's up to them, but if they are Muslims then I believe they should decide what's more important to them - distancing themselves from religiously risky investments, or blurring the lines of Islam in persuit of money.

Posted by: Saudi Engineer

Well said! Best comment by far, I couldn't agree more.

Posted by: Miserable sod

Reading the article reminds me of the same quality of service offered in Kuwait in those areas & places where western expats don't venture to. The same poor facilities are available in the real expat (easterners) workers areas (who do most of the hard work by the way) in Kuwait instead of the paper pushing activities of the western expats. So I consider KOUT buying a company that has the same poor services an ideal fit & true reflection of KOUT business plan. No one in their right mind would visit a little chef in the uk, unless you want a piece of real Kuwait in the uk. Great synergy.

Posted by: Martino

What a joke article, has the journo got some grudge going here, the Q8's are free to do whatever they want with their �'s. what about Harrods? Have they removed all pork products since the Qatari guys bought them, - come on. What about an article about how the grass grows or how paint dry's

Posted by: Rupert

Why write such a pointless, uneducated and antagonistic piece of garbage (as it cannot be called journalism). Nobody really cares what's on the menu so long as it is something that appeals to there taste, possibly religious requirements. If every company where to conduct business based on religious beliefs, I don't think they would be very successful. Without mentioning names, I am sure that more then one "Muslim" owned company has shares or investments in (for example) casinos.

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