Bella Italia, Cafe Rouge and Las Iguanas face collapse
The casual dining sector is far from healthy, and 6,000 jobs are at risk
The owner of Bella Italia, Cafe Rouge and Las Iguanas has announced that they plan to appoint administrators. The restaurant group is in severe financial risk, and the future of 6,000 workers hangs in the balance.
The lockdown has placed an enormous pressure on the hospitality sector, and it seems it has proven too much for the casual dining sector. This is a group that was already dwindling steadily before the pandemic. Months ago, the owners of these three restaurants announced huge reductions and cost-cutting measures, and Jamie Oliver's rival business, Jamie's Italian, disappeared almost completely.
Under the lockdown, Carluccio's went under, and now these restaurants, all of which are owned by The Casual Dining Group (CDG), are going the same way.
The CDG has confirmed that a notice of intent to appoint administrators has been filed at the High Court. CDG is expected to unveil plans for a series of insolvency arrangements this week, as part of efforts to save the business following weeks of zero income during lockdown.
It is expected to involve company voluntary arrangements (CVAs) for two of the three brands - Bella Italia, Café Rouge and Las Iguanas - with the other being placed into administration.
Prior to lockdown, which began in late March, CDG managed 250 outlets across the UK, and employed around 6,000 people, making it one of the largest restaurant operators in Britain.
One source close to CDG told Sky News the objective of the plan was to preserve as many of these jobs and restaurants as is possible.
A spokesman for CDG said: "As is widely acknowledged, this is an unprecedented situation for our industry and, like many other companies across the UK, the directors of Casual Dining Group are working closely with our advisers as we consider our next steps."
As mentioned, since the outbreak of the pandemic, Carluccio's have suffered, but Prezzo, Wahaca and many more have drafted in professional advisers to explore their financing options. There is widespread concern that many high street businesses will never recover from lockdown.
Interestingly, Giraffe seems to see this news as a chance for expansion, making it one of the only restaurants doing anything much beyond cutting losses. It is reportedly now in talks to buy out 30 Carluccio's outlets, its brand and head office, saving 900 of the company's 2,000 jobs.