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Thu 10th Sep 2020 - Epiris paid £9m up front for Casual Dining Group £9m to follow
Epiris paid £9m up front for Casual Dining Group £9m to follow: Private equity company Epiris paid £18m to buy Casual Dining Group sites out of administration – £9m up front with a further £9m deferred until assignment of its leasehold portfolio. An administrator’s report states that 33 parties were issued with a teaser agreement to pre-qualify their interest in the business. Four bidders emerged – two were interested in buying the wider business whilst two we interested in buying Las Iguanas only. Later, a fifth bidder, interested in the whole business, re-emerged. The Epiris offer for 152 restaurants, using a vehicle called Big Table Group, to buy the majority of the business was the best cash offer available and was accepted. At the time of the administrator’s appointment its secured creditor was owed £126m – it is estimated the return will be about £13m. The administrator believes there will be no return for unsecured creditors. Propel previously reported that Epiris will commit £43m of funding for CDG. That figure would include significant levels of cash commitment for the next 12 months to manage the impact covid-19 continues to have on footfall and revenue, and then to support and grow the group by refurbishing sites. Propel revealed in July that Aurelius Group, the German investment group that came close to rescuing Jamie’s Italian, was interested in acquiring the Bella Italia and Café Rouge brands. TriSpan, backer of Rosa’s Thai and Thunderbird Fried Chicken, and private equity firm Endless were both bidding to secure Las Iguanas. Also in July, Propel reported that property advisory firm AG&G has been appointed to market the 91-strong portfolio of former Casual Dining Group (CDG) sites that closed last week after the company was placed into administration, Propel has learned. The portfolio comprises 11 Las Iguanas sites, including those in Newcastle, London’s Brunswick and Brighton Marina; 34 Bella Italia; three Belgo units (Covent Garden, Kingsway and Nottingham); 31 Café Rouge; and 12 of the group’s airport-based sites, including its three pubs at Heathrow and all three of its Oriel-branded units.

Coconut Tree to extend 50% off offer to the end of January 2021: Award-winning Sri Lankan bar and restaurant group The Coconut Tree has announced it will offer 50% off all food and non-alcoholic drinks Monday – Wednesday until the end of January 2021. The company said it was originally inspired by the positive feedback they received for extending the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ offer into September, and now, they want to use the opportunity to ‘put Sri Lankan cuisine firmly on the map’. Brand director Anna Garrod said: “In the UK, Sri Lankan food is not as widely available or understood as say, Indian or Chinese cuisine, and we want to help change that; we want to be the ones to make it mainstream. Eat Out To Help Out gave people the confidence to try new things, and we met so many new customers as a result. We want to build on that momentum by extending the offer, and giving people an incentive to give our take on Sri Lankan street food a try this winter.”

HospitalityUnite website to support Kickstart initiative: The HospitalityUnite website, set up to help hospitality workers find alternative employment during lockdown, is now switching focus to support the government’s Kickstart initiative for young people with the backing of leading trade association UKHospitality, Springboard, The Scottish Tourism Alliance and The Youth Group. It will provide a free online service to make it easy for both hospitality businesses and those 16-24 year-olds wanting to start a career in the restaurant, pub, hotel, bar and wider leisure sector to take advantage of the new government funded scheme. As part of the UK’s recovery strategy, the government is putting £2bn into the Kickstart programme which will fund six months of 25 hours a week work at national minimum wage for 16-24 year-olds, giving them a ‘kickstart’ into their working lives. Only government approved candidates can apply to Kickstart roles and these candidates are being directed to Hospitality Unite jobs courtesy of The Youth Group and its partnership with the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) assessors. The Youth Group, a youth-first company which improves opportunities for young people, has a community of 1.5 million looking to build a career in the current challenging post-covid environment. The original HospitalityUnite not-for-profit jobs portal was created in March free-of-charge by the team at Harri, the online people management platform. This new initiative has already secured commitment from several hospitality groups, including BrewDog, Burger King UK and The Ivy Collection, and the HospitalityUnite team expects more than 200 businesses to sign up. Operating companies taking part will receive exclusive access to these approved candidates and free use of the hiring platform to post jobs, screen candidates, conduct video interviewing and send offer letters. Free employability training will also be available. At the beginning of lockdown, Harri set up the website initiative, with the backing of UK Hospitality and The Scottish Tourism Alliance, to bring together businesses in other sectors such as care and retail to support hospitality staff with short term employment stop gaps while their sites were closed. Working with the likes of Amazon, Waitrose, Care UK and Morrisons it processed over 300,000 applications. “The need for homegrown talent in hospitality will be vital through the course of 2021. Brexit barriers to entry for ‘unskilled’ workers post 1st January will make these Kickstart applicants all the more crucial to the industry’s revival. We welcome all operators throughout hospitality and tourism to join the HospitalityUnite Kickstart initiative, which in partnership with The Youth Group, will seamlessly process your government application on your behalf again at no charge,” said Harri director Pete Willis. Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, which is supporting the initiative, said: “This is a really positive way of promoting the government’s Kickstart programme, set up to assist sectors like ours. We know from experience that hospitality benefits hugely from the enthusiasm, talents and innovation of young people in its workforce. As hospitality embarks on a journey of recovery after the impacts of the covid crisis, those attributes will be more valuable than ever, and the portal will be a great access point for people looking to break into exciting hospitality careers.” 

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