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Tue 6th Feb 2018 - Sky News – EAT set for wave of store closures as competition bites
Sky News – EAT set for wave of store closures as competition bites: Fresh food-to-go retailer EAT is considering a wave of store closures as it becomes the latest retailer to be forced to react to a rising high street cost-base. The company is considering a “substantial” reorganisation of its store portfolio, which comprises roughly 100 outlets, reports Sky News. KPMG is understood to have been brought in by EAT’s management several months ago to advise on restructuring options. A Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) is thought to be among the possible options presented to EAT’s management, although a spokesman for the chain said it was not working on a CVA. Even without a CVA, EAT is likely to press ahead with plans to reduce its costs by closing a number of stores, according to insiders. EAT is majority-owned by private equity firm Lyceum Capital, which took control of the business in 2011. Since then, it has changed its management team several times, with co-founder Niall MacArthur handing the reins to Adrian Johnson, who was recruited from Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee in 2013. Andrew Walker, the current chief executive, joined in 2016. Competition from Pret A Manger, food delivery services and rival chains such as Itsu and Leon are reported to have all dented EAT’s growth plans, although it continues to be profitable. Accounts for the year to June 2017 show 5% growth in like-for-like sales, with Ebitda up 19% to £4.3m. The previous year’s numbers revealed shareholders had agreed to write off £94.5m in loan notes as part of a debt-for-equity swap. The Sunday Times reported last month that Lyceum had abandoned plans to raise a £400m fund, blaming weaker sentiment among international investors. Last week, better burger brand Byron had its CVA approved by creditors while Jamie’s Italian has confirmed it will close 12 sites following a strategic review.

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