Bella Italia owner collapses into administration

The owner of Bella Italia, Cafe Rouge, and Las Iguanas has fallen into administration.

The Casual Dining Group has 250 outlets, 91 of which will close immediately and lead to the loss of 1,900 jobs.

AlixPartners will handle the administration and are in the process of finding buyers for the remaining parts of the business

Clare Kennedy, from AlixPartners, said: “We appreciate that this is an extremely difficult time for all those associated with Casual Dining Group.”

“Our immediate priorities are to assist those whose employment has been affected by today’s announcement and to secure a sale for the group in order to protect jobs and provide the group’s much-loved brands with a sustainable platform for the future.”

The Casual Dining Group applied to appoint administrators back in May as the group struggled over lockdown to pay rents and saw revenues collapse as restaurants over the UK closed.

James Spragg, the chief executive of the Bella Italia owner, said: “We are acutely aware of our duty to all employees and recognise that this is an incredibly difficult time for them.”

“Working alongside the administrators, we will do everything we can to support them through this process, with a view to preserving as much employment as we are able to.”

The casual dining sector has suffered over the lockdown period. Many pubs and restaurants will be reopening on 4 July under social distancing measures.

Just this week saw Byron Burger announce plans to bring in administrators. SSP Group, the owner of Upper Crust and Caffe Ritazza owner said it plans to cut up to 5,000 roles.

“The casual dining sector was in distress before this crisis but this is what will tip many over the edge and towards collapse,” said Julie Palmer, a partner at the corporate restructuring firm Begbies Traynor.

“The make up of the high street before this crisis was such that one could not do without the other and they begin to spiral down together towards the bottom of their finances.”

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Safiya focuses on business and political stories for UK Investor Magazine. Her interests include international development, travel and politics.