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Thu 2nd Jul 2020 - 91 restaurants close permanently as Casual Dining Group goes into administration
91 restaurants close permanently as Casual Dining Group goes into administration: Casual Dining Group (CDG), the Bella Italia, Café Rouge and Las Iguanas operator, has been placed into administration leading to the closure of 91 of its 250 sites with immediate effect. The company has appointed Clare Kennedy, Peter Saville, Daniel Imison and Catherine Williamson, of AlixPartners, as joint administrators ahead of an expected sale of the business. The closure of the sites will affect 1,909 restaurant staff out of the group’s current staff base of 5,959. The sites earmarked for closure comprise 11 Las Iguanas, 34 Bella Italia, three Belgo, 31 Café Rouge and 12 of the group’s airport-based sites, including its three pubs at Heathrow. CDG’s board said it had determined in today’s “extreme operating environment it is in the best interests of all stakeholders for the group to enter administration to enable the group to conclude negotiations with landlords regarding the estate”. It said it was a “critical step to resolve prior to the conclusion of the ongoing sale process”. The CDG board reiterated it had received multiple offers for the business and the administrators would now seek to progress these. It said: “Given that all offers received for the business envisage a reduced restaurant estate, the administrators have taken the extremely difficult decision to permanently close 91 restaurants with immediate effect. Regrettably, this will mean there will be a number of redundancies across the group.” CDG chief executive James Spragg said: “After reviewing all our options with advisers it became clear we needed to take this action to protect the business and secure the best possible future for CDG as we look to conclude a potential sale. We are acutely aware of our duty to all employees and recognise 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.” Kennedy said: “We appreciate this is an extremely difficult time for all those associated with CDG. Our immediate priorities are to assist those whose employment has been affected by today’s announcement and to secure a sale for the group to protect jobs and provide the group’s much-loved brands with a sustainable platform for the future.” Propel revealed yesterday that a number of parties were bidding to acquire all or part of CDG. Propel understands Aurelius Group, the German investment group that came close to rescuing Jamie’s Italian, is interested in acquiring the Bella Italia and Café Rouge brands. Propel also understands TriSpan, backer of Rosa’s Thai and Thunderbird Fried Chicken, and private equity firm Endless are both bidding to secure Las Iguanas. CDG has been working with AlixPartners to progress a sale process that was announced in mid-May and aimed at finding a new investor for the group. It is understood bids are still being considered for the entire business.

UKHospitality welcomes reopening progress in Scotland: UKHospitality has welcomed further clarification of the route map for the reopening of Scottish hospitality and tourism businesses. First minister Nicola Sturgeon reiterated outdoor hospitality such as pavement cafes and beer gardens would be able to reopen from Monday (6 July), with the remainder of the sector opening on Wednesday, 15 July. Self-contained holiday accommodation, including holiday cottages, lodges or caravans with no shared facilities, can reopen from Friday (3 July). Sturgeon also confirmed social distancing measures would remain at two metres with exemptions for premises in relevant sectors with agreed mitigations, including the collection of names and addresses of customers to assist with contact tracing. The Scottish government announced it would work with key sectors including hospitality to agree mitigations required and finalise detailed guidance. UKHospitality executive director for Scotland Willie Macleod said: “Further clarification over the reopening of Scottish hospitality businesses is another welcome step forward. Particularly positive is the confirmation the Scottish government will allow a reduction in the minimum social distancing requirement, with agreed mitigations. The next step for us is to work with the Scottish government to ensure any requirements are proportionate and workable for hospitality.”

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