BLACKBURN’S billionaire Issa brothers have made a tasty new purchase ­— buying up 146 KFC restaurants across the UK and Ireland.

Their EG Group has acquired the biggest franchise for the 68-year-old US fried chicken chain and 4,000 employees.

The multi-million pound deal brings the company, founded as Euro-Garages in 2001 by Mohsin and Zuber Issa, 146 KFC restaurants, one Pizza Hut, and a pipeline of future trading sites.

The purchase of the franchise from Belfast’s The Herbert Group means EG Group now operates over 1,500 food-to-go retail concessions world-wide.

The brothers also announced they had bought Australian company Oliver’s Real Food Limited for £13.65million.

The two acquisitions are the latest moves in a diversification and buying spree by the brothers which has included purchasing Mellor’s The Stanley House Hotel and Spa for its Monte Hotels arm, pondering a bid for the Asda supermarket chain, and making a £2billion bid for the Caltex Australia Ltd convenience store, petrol station and refinery firm.

EG Group, headquartered on Blackburn’s Beehive Trading Park in Haslingden Road, already has 10 KFC drive-thrus including one on its Frontier Park development on the Blackburn/Hyndburn border near junction six of the M65.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa

Zuber Issa said: “Securing The Herbert Group portfolio builds on our commitment to grow the EG Group’s presence in the food-to-go retail convenience segment. It is a great strategic addition and complements our expanding operations in the United Kingdom and furthermore allows us entry into the Irish market.”

Miranda Barker, chief executive of East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “These are two tasty acquisitions for the Issa brothers. I am please to see the EG Group going from strength to strength.”

Monte Hotels is building a Hampton by Hilton hotel at Frontier Park.

Oliver’s Real Food has 24 sites on Australia’s major arterial highways. and is considered to be the world’s first ‘certified organic fast food chain’.

Zuber Issa added: “EG delivers innovative food and convenience offers to customers internationally and we are committed to bringing market leading offers to our Australian customers. In Oliver’s we see a concept that meets a global trend towards healthy and sustainable eating.”