Cafe Rouge and Bella Italia owner files for administration, putting 6,000 jobs at risk

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Restaurant chains Bella Italia, Las Iguanas and Cafe Rouge are on the brink of collapse after owner Casual Dining Group filed an intent to appoint administrators for the businesses.

Around 6,000 people work for the company – which also has the Belgo, Huxleys and Oriel Grand Brasserie brands – but its restaurants have been closed by the coronavirus lockdown.

The chain, which has around 250 sites around the country, said the move would give it 10 days breathing space to consider “all options” for restructuring.

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

A Casual Dining Group spokesman 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.

“These notifications are a prudent measure in light of the company’s position and the wider situation.

“These notifications will also protect the company from any threatened potential legal action from landlords while we review the detail of the Government advice, and formulate a plan for the company in these difficult times.”

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.

Casual Dining 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.

It is understood that a variety of arrangements are still being looked at by the Casual Dining Group, including company voluntary arrangement (CVA) restructuring deals or the administration of specific brands.

A number of city centre and leisure groups have warned that many restaurants and other companies in city centres will go out of business if the lockdown continues too long.

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