Bella Italia owner in crunch talks over potential restructuring

The owner of Bella Italia, Cafe Rouge and Las Iguanas is in crunch talks with creditors over its future after being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Casual Dining Group, which employs around 6,000 staff, said it is working with advisers over a potential restructuring programme aimed at putting the restaurant group on a sustainable footing.

The announcement comes amid reports that troubled rival chain Carluccio’s is closing on a rescue deal which could save 900 jobs at the business.

Restaurant chains have been hammered by the coronavirus pandemic, after the Government-mandated lockdown forced them to shut their doors in March.

Leaders in the sector have also warned that social distancing measures upon reopening will also significantly hinder profitability in the industry.

Cafe Rouge
Cafe Rouge in Basil Street, London (Fiona Hanson/PA)

It is understood that Casual Dining Group has drafted in advisory firm AlixPartners to consider potential insolvency arrangements.

It is understood that a variety of arrangements are being looked at, including company voluntary arrangement (CVA) restructuring deals and administration of a brand.

The group, which has furloughed the majority of its staff, traded from around 250 sites across the UK prior to the lockdown.

It is understood the group has seen profitability improve since it agreed a refinancing deal with US private equity firm KKR in 2018.

A Casual Dining Group spokeswoman 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.”

Meanwhile, the owner of rival chain Giraffe, Boparan Restaurants, is reportedly closing on a deal to buy Carluccio’s in a move which will save around 900 jobs.

Sky News said Boparan is looking to conclude a deal which would include taking over the Carluccio’s brand, head office and approximately 30 restaurants.

Last month, insolvency experts from FRP Advisory were appointed as administrators to Carluccio’s, which had around 70 sites prior to the pandemic.

Carluccio’s and administrators FRP have declined to comment.

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