Barber, who bought Villandry on Great Portland Street in 2006, told BigHospitality in 2010 that he planned to expand the business by a further two sites himself before the year end.
Now, in a deal made for an undisclosed sum, Barber has passed the mantle onto Le Roux, who brought the Le Pain Quotidien concept to the UK as part of the Village du Pain group. It was subsequently sold to PQL in 2009.
Barber said: “Philippe is one of the most skilled operators of his class and I am delighted to pass the keys of Villandry on to him knowing that he has plans to grow the business and take it to the next level.”
Le Roux plans to capitalise on the restaurant, bar, food store and bakery’s “strong brand”, which also includes a smaller outlet at Bicester Village.
Mark Sheehan of Coffer Corporate Leisure, who acted on behalf of Le Roux in the transaction, said: “This is yet another example of investment in the leisure sector. We have had a very strong 2011 so far and are working on a number of other deals. Investors have a very large appetite and are clamouring to invest at the bottom of the cycle.”
Kitchen Italia sale
Alongside the deal it has also emerged that Barber has also sold his two Kitchen Italia restaurants in Covent Garden and Westfield London. BigHospitality understands a deal has been made to the brand’s main investors, the Kuwait-based Kout Food Group, which also backs the Maison Blanc chain and noodle bar Cha Cha Moon in Soho.
Barber also co-owns and runs Sake No Hana in St James’s.