Sandwich chain Eat reportedly eyeing store closures

Sandwich chain Eat is understood to be mulling potential store closures as it explores ways to shore up the business in the face of biting high street pressures.

The group has drafted in professional services firm KPMG to help with a possible restructuring, according to Sky News, with a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) reported to be among the options.

A CVA allows firms to take the pressure off their creaking finances by closing loss-making outlets and securing deep discounts on rental costs.

It was recently used by burger chain Byron, which is pushing through around 20 store closures, leading to hundreds of job losses.

Eat, which is owned by private equity firm Lyceum Capital, has seen its store estate swell beyond 100 since it was founded more than 22 years ago.

However, the scale of the business is dwarfed by rival Pret a Manger which has more than 450 outlets.

It comes as the high street dining sector has been forced to stomach mounting cost pressures driven by the National Living Wage, the apprenticeship levy, inflation's squeeze on consumer spending and higher import costs linked to the Brexit-hit pound.

Jamie's Italian, the restaurant chain founded by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, announced last month that it was seeking a CVA to help put the company on firmer financial ground.

Toys R Us UK successfully staved off the threat of administration in December when creditors backed its CVA plans, which triggered the loss of 800 jobs and the closure of 26 loss-making stores.

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