OUT THIS WEEK: Little Chef: The Heart of the Deal by Lawrence Wosskow
Out this week is the remarkable memoir from British entrepreneur and philanthropist Lawrence Wosskow. Little Chef: The Heart of the Deal is the fascinating story of the man who tried to save one of Britain’s best loved restaurant brands.
Published on the 28th November, Little Chef: The Heart of the Deal is the frank and entertaining personal account of Lawrence’s ground-breaking career that has spanned food and leisure, retail and property. Lawrence provides a unique insight into his attempt to rescue the iconic British brand Little Chef and how this venture came to an abrupt end when, aged 43, he suffered a near-fatal heart attack. Full of valuable business insights and lessons learnt across a career spanning over 30 years, Lawrence talks with refreshing honesty about the effect his heart attack had on his lifestyle, as well as issues with mental health – and how he channelled his struggle with anxiety into his career. He also speaks candidly of how it felt to be betrayed by his most trusted business partner, who was eventually prosecuted and jailed for fraud. An inspirational read, the book charts the adventures that have brought Lawrence to this crucial junction in his adrenaline-fuelled life and career. It is a personal story of family, famous friends and enduring business partnerships.
Lawrence Wosskow said: “When I talk to other people who have gone through a near-death encounter, they often say they that they regretted not living life to its fullest. That’s not my story. I’m lucky enough to be able to say that my life up until that ghastly night was already crammed with a multitude of amazing experiences.”
All royalties from the book will be donated to charities including Dreamflight and the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
About Lawrence Wosskow
Lawrence Wosskow has owned a number of high-profile UK companies, including Out of Town Restaurants Group, the UK’s largest shopping centre caterer; Free Spirit, a chain of surf/outdoor retail stores; the ice cream brands Loseley and Bradwell’s; Café Rouge and Little Chef. Most recently, Lawrence has invested his wealth in UK commercial properties, including his long-term project to change the face of the centre of Harrogate with the purchase of 1000ft of shop fronts on Parliament Street.
Born in Sheffield, Lawrence started his career at Marks & Spencer, where he became the company’s youngest-ever department buyer, aged 24 – a job he gave up to travel the world with his wife, Julie. By the early 90s, Lawrence was a shareholder and part of Café Rouge’s senior management team, overseeing its record expansion before being sold to Whitbread.
Returning to Sheffield in the early 90s, Lawrence bought ice cream business Bradwell’s – expanding sales by introducing ice-cream kiosks to UK shopping centres including Meadowhall (Sheffield); Metro (Newcastle), Trafford Centre (Manchester) and Bluewater (Kent). The mid-late 90s saw the purchase of Free Spirit clothing, which was expanded and sold on to Millets, and Loseley Ice Cream, which was bought out of receivership.
His Out of Town Restaurants Group, a company Lawrence sold and subsequently re-purchased, became the UK’s largest shopping centre caterer, and its expansion saw the company become Bluewater’s largest employer.
In 2005 Lawrence purchased Little Chef, but soon after had to reluctantly resign his position, having suffered a near-fatal heart attack in June 2006. Lawrence and his family moved to the USA where, under doctor’s orders to take a year off, Lawrence focused on his recovery.
Most recently, Lawrence has gone from tenant to landlord, investing his wealth in UK commercial properties, with further developments in the USA. This has included his long-term project to change the face of the centre of Harrogate with the purchase of 1000ft of shop fronts on Parliament Street, something Lawrence sees as his biggest achievement to date. Other developments are underway in Leeds, Darlington, Glasgow and Cheshire Oaks.
Nine years ago, Lawrence wrote a book called The Full Monty: 101 Things to do Before I Die. Little Chef: The Heart of the Deal is the 100th thing he has ticked off the list. Lawrence Wosskow has two children, Toby and Hannah. He now lives in the Bahamas with his wife, Julie.