Entrepreneur Luke Johnson and Casual Dining Group said to be bidding for Tesco-owned restaurant chain Giraffe

Francesca Washtell
Follow Francesca
Giraffe has 59 restaurants in the UK (Source: Giraffe)

Friendly-dining restaurant chain Giraffe has piqued the interest of serial entrepreneur Luke Johnson and the hospitality giant behind Bella Italia and Las Iguanas.

Casual Dining Group, which also owns Cafe Rouge, could be set to lock horns with Johnson in the race to buy the Tesco-owned restaurant chain, reported the Sunday Times.

Tesco announced it was putting Giraffe up for sale at the end of March. The supermarket chain snapped up Giraffe in a £49m expansion deal in 2013 from Luke Johnson's Risk Capital Partners and 3i, as part of former chief executive Philip Clarke's efforts to make use of extra space in the supermarket's larger branches.

However, Giraffe's losses totalled £4.1m in the year to 1 March 2015, after the group opened 14 branches and wrote down the value of some existing sites. The chain has a total of 59 branches in the UK and four international restaurants.

City sources told the Sunday Times that Johnson, who became non-executive chairman of Gaucho Group last week and bought Brighton pier for £18m at the beginning of April, is considering buying back Giraffe at a discount price.