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Fri 21st Jun 2019 - Azzurri Group buys Pod in pre-pack administration, nine sites to close
Azzurri Group buys Pod in pre-pack administration to accelerate Coco di Mama roll-out, nine Pod sites to close: Pod, the 22-strong, London-based healthy eating operator, has been sold to Azzurri Group, owner of the ASK Italian, Zizzi, Coco di Mama and Radio Alice brands for an undisclosed sum. The sale was via a pre-pack administration after Damian Webb and Allan Kelly, of RSM Restructuring Advisory, were appointed administrators of Pod Food earlier today (Friday, 21 June). A total of 13 of the Pod restaurants will continue to trade while nine will be closed. The remaining sites will continue to operate as Pod with the intention of converting a number to Coco di Mama over the next 12 months. Coco di Mama, which it has grown from six to 22 sites in the past four years and is delivering strong organic growth. Azzurri Group chief executive Steve Holmes said: “We are pleased with the strong growth and rapid expansion of Coco di Mama since it joined the Azzurri Group in 2015. The deal announced today will accelerate our position in this growing sector and we look forward to serving even more Londoners fresh food-to-go.” Webb said: "The sale of Pod Food secures more than 170 jobs and ensures the ongoing trading of the core Pod business. Regrettably this process has led to the closure of nine stores, resulting in 90 redundancies. We will be working closely with the redundancy payments service to assist these employees." Propel previously revealed Pod was set to be sold in a pre-pack administration, with Azzurri Group understood to be leading the way to buy the business. It came after Pod's shareholders failed to approve a £2.7m sale to Azzurri Group earlier this week in a deal that was worth 5p a share. Azzurri Group made the offer after Pod's board put the company up for sale last month. Pod previous said: “As you may be aware, the company has been in financial difficulty for a while – it was loss-making in 2017 and, although in 2018 it was Ebitda positive, it was not able to cover maintenance capex and debt repayments. The introduction of a new management team saw an upturn in the trends during the latter half of 2017 and the first three quarters of 2018, but the company has not been able to raise funds for new investment and has suffered difficult trading conditions. Against this background, the board sought buyers for the company."

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