The owner of Swiss Chalet, Harvey's and Milestones Grill and Bar signed a deal to sell its airline catering business to Gategroup, a Swiss-based company, to focus attention on its restaurant business.


Cara Foods, which supplies meals for airlines such as Air Canada, British Airways and Air France, says it wanted to sell its airline division to concentrate on its restaurant business. ((Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press))

Financial terms of the transaction, announced late Wednesday by privately held Cara Operations Ltd. and Gategroup were not released.

Cara Airline Solutions, which serves more than 55 airline and rail customers, including Air Canada, Air Transat, Jazz, British Airways, Air France, Air China and Via Rail, employs about 2,800 workers with operations across Canada.

The Toronto-area company has 10 food service centres in Canadian airports and generated annual revenues of about $205 million.

"Cara Airline Solutions is an important and significant part of our company's history, so it was important to find the right buyer," said Don Robinson, Cara president and chief executive.

In addition to the airline catering business, Cara operates under several banners, including Swiss Chalet, Harvey's, Milestones Grill and Bar, Montana's and Kelsey's Neighbourhood Bar and Grill.

The company said the sale of its airport business will allow the company to focus operations on its restaurant business, whose brands are among the best-known in the Canadian food sector.

Gategroup operates under several brands, including eGate Solutions, Elan, Gate Aviation, Gate Gourmet, Gate Safe, Harmony and Performa.

In a release from Zurich, Gategroup said the transaction expands its business to Canada and will boost its North American revenues to nearly $1 billion.

"Adding Cara Airline Solutions to our portfolio fits well with our strategy to increase shareholder value by taking advantage of attractive acquisition opportunities and growing with hub carriers in hub markets," said CEO Guy Dubois.