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Wed 14th Oct 2020 - Boparan acquires Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Deltic seeks investment, Northern Ireland lock-down
Boparan acquires Gourmet Burger Kitchen, 26 sites to close: Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG), which earlier this year acquired Carluccio’s out of administration, has acquired the bulk of the Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) business through a pre-pack administration. GBK, which historically operated from a national network of 61 sites and employed 1,031 people, had been operating on a reduced basis following the covid-19 lock-down measures. The sale has secured a “go forward” portfolio of 35 sites and 669 jobs – however, there will be 26 site closures and 362 redundancies as a result of the administration. GBK joins The Cinnamon Collection, Fishworks, Carluccio’s, Slim Chickens, Giraffe and Ed’s Easy Diner, in BRG’s portfolio and gives the company a 99-strong portfolio of restaurants nationwide with 32 franchised sites globally. BRG will also continue GBK’s franchise partnership in the UAE. Satnam Leihal, managing director of BRG, said: “We welcome the GBK team to BRG. This latest acquisition is in line with our strategy to grow our restaurant group with quality brands. While it is an extremely challenging time for the sector, we believe quality hospitality businesses will recover in the long term as people return to eating out.” Deloitte has been advising GBK on its options, which had included an accelerated sales process. Propel understands that BRG has beaten competition from better burger rival Byron and investor Naveen Handa to acquire GBK. It is thought the business could be valued at circa £4m to £5m. South Africa-based Famous Brands pushed the button on a sale process for the better burger brand it acquired for circa £120m in 2016, last month. Famous Brands announced in April, it was pulling the plug on its investment. Last month, Famous Brands reported system-wide sales at GBK fell 66.2% for the six months ending 27 August 2020 compared with the previous year. At the end of August, 65% of the 67-strong GBK estate had reopened. Famous Brands said the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and resultant national lock-downs and trading restrictions has been “extremely severe” on the business in the UK and South Africa. BRG paid £3.2m to acquire 30 Carluccio’s sites and buy the rights to the brand in May. In regards to GBK, Deloitte said that following its company voluntary arrangement in November 2018, a range of positive changes saw the performance of the company improve in FY20 (12 months to the end of February 2020). However, the impact of covid-19 and associated lock-down measures have impacted the business’ liquidity, driving the need to find a funding or sale solution. Given the financial position of the business, it has been necessary for the sale to be facilitated by way of a pre-pack administration. Gavin Maher and Rob Harding, restructuring partners at Deloitte, were today (Wednesday, 14 October) been appointed joint administrators to the main entities in the group. Maher said: “As with a number of dining businesses, the broader challenges facing ‘bricks and mortar’ operators, combined with the effect of the lock-down, resulted in a deterioration in financial performance and a material funding requirement. We have been working closely with the management team under very difficult market conditions to try and find a funding solution and I am glad to be able to announce the rescue of this well-loved brand together with a large proportion of the sites and workforce. However, it’s clearly disappointing that a number of sites have had to close resulting in these redundancies.” The GBK sites that now form part of the BRG estate are: Basingstoke, Bath, Belsize Park, Birmingham Resorts World, Brindley Place Birmingham, Bluewater, Bracknell, Brighton, Bristol Cabot Circus, Bristol Cribbs Causeway, Bromley, Cambridge, Chiswick, Clarks Village Somerset, Ealing, East Dulwich, Greenwich, Guildford, Kingston, Lakeside, Leamington Spa, Liverpool, Norwich, O2 Greenwich, Oxford, Putney, South Kensington, St Paul’s, Staines, Trafford Centre, Waterloo, West Hampstead, Westfield London, Westfield Stratford and Wimbledon.

Deltic Group appoints advisers as it seeks investment: The Deltic Group is seeking investment after seeing its finances take a hit during the coronavirus pandemic. The company has asked the accountancy firm BDO to identify new investors – a move first reported by Sky News. Deltic employs 2,000 people and trades from 52 venues across the UK. The company is privately owned by its management team, which is led by chief executive Peter Marks and a number of individual shareholders. Deltic has already begun consulting on roughly 400 job losses, with Marks telling the Financial Times last month that figure could rise to 1,000. A Deltic spokesman said: “The unprecedented impact of the covid-19 pandemic on the UK’s late-night sector has been well-publicised. Deltic’s board of directors is working with advisers BDO to assess all options available to the company, including the possibility of bringing in new equity partners. Deltic also continues to participate in discussions with the government regarding potential further support for the late-night sector during this difficult period.” The Night Time Industries Association recently warned 60% of the UK’s nightclubs could face closure without further government support during the next two months.

Pubs and restaurants to shut in Northern Ireland from Friday as part of four-week ‘circuit breaker’: Pubs and restaurants are to shut in Northern Ireland from Friday (16 October) as part of a four-week “circuit breaker” lock-down in an attempt to stall the rise in coronavirus infections. First minister Arlene Foster confirmed the move in a statement and said the half-term holiday break for schools will be extended and now last two weeks, from 19 to 30 October. Pubs and restaurants will be able to offer takeaway only, but places of worship, gyms and retail can stay open. The Derry and Strabane Council area, which has additional restrictions, has been experiencing the highest infection rate in the UK and Ireland, with a seven-day average of 970 cases per 100,000 people. Other restrictions include household bubbles being no bigger than ten people from two households; the suspension of indoor sport, apart from at an elite level; mass events involving more than 15 people being banned; off licences and supermarkets not being permitted to sell alcohol after 8pm; no unnecessary travel being undertaken; and people being required to work from home where they can. Wedding ceremonies and civil partnerships will be limited to 25 people with no receptions from Monday (19 October). Foster said: “We fully appreciate this will be difficult and worrying news for a lot of people. The executive has taken this decision because it is necessary, and we discussed the impacts in great detail. We do not take this step lightly. We must reach a different place on both the numbers and on getting back to the basics of social distancing and I know everyone will want to work with us on that. Small acts can have large and important contributions to managing covid-19.” Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford told Kay Burley on Sky News he was considering a similar move, while Therese Coffey, the work and pensions secretary, played down the prospect of a similar move in England.

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