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Sat 22nd Jan 2022 - Corbin & King makes court filings to protect itself in battle with investors
Corbin & King makes court filings to protect itself in battle with investors: London-based restaurant operator Corbin & King has made court filings as proof of being solvent to protect itself in an ongoing battle with its investors, Propel has learned. A report in the Daily Mail said Corbin & King was filing for insolvency. It said the nine-strong group, which owns restaurants including The Wolseley and The Delaunay, had made miscellaneous applications under the Insolvency Act for all its outlets. However, Propel has learned the court filings were made as proof of Corbin & King being solvent to protect itself in an ongoing battle with Thai leisure group Minor Hotels, its majority owner. In 2017, Minor, one of the largest hotel operators in the Asia Pacific, bought out Graphite Capital, which had backed Corbin & King since 2012. Last November, co-founder Jeremy King admitted the company and its backers had a “differing view between us during the pandemic of the best way forward” when it came to developing its new Soho restaurant Manzi’s. The group had hoped to open the restaurant in October, following delays brought on by the various London lockdowns, but King said the opening had been pushed back again following discussions with its financial backers. King said: “The problem there was a differing view between us during the pandemic of the best way forward and what the outlook for London would be – and that held us back because there remains a substantial cash outlay needed, and we had to be prudent with our available cash. We therefore agreed to stall the development until greater certainty is achieved.” Last year, there was speculation the business was seeking a new backer after falling out with Minor over its future strategy, which could lead to a legal battle. At the time, Minor said there was “no sales process” for its holding, but added: “We evaluate our position from time to time.” Corbin & King has declined to comment on the court filings speculation. Earlier this month, King told Propel that customer demand is “gratifyingly strong” and staffing levels are good despite the uncertainty and restrictions being caused by the pandemic. The company said no date has been confirmed when work will recommence on Manzi’s, or begin at its two other pipeline sites – a large brasserie in the City of London’s King William Street and a community restaurant in Notting Hill. Corbin & King has taken a number of steps to preserve cash and support trading, including the agreement of rent relief and deferral of payments by the majority of landlords, renegotiation and/or reduction in contractual services, suspension of any unnecessary capital expenditure, and launching a new revenue channel, “Home Dining”. Talking about current trading, King said: “I can only describe it as a curate’s egg. When we are allowed to trade properly we are in very good shape but we are constantly under threat for reasons I don’t need to enumerate as they are shared by us all. Mercifully, our staff levels are good and customer demand gratifyingly strong. I am actually rather positive about 2022.” King spoke after Corbin & King reported turnover of £22.5m for the year ending 31 December 2020 versus £53.1m the year before. Like-for-like sales in the period were down 57.7%. The company saw a pre-tax loss of £9.4m versus a loss of £5.7m the year before. Corbin & King received government grants totalling £7.5m in the period. A £13.2m loan owed to parent company, Minor, which was payable in May 2020, remained outstanding. The court filings come ahead of a High Court case in which the business takes on insurance companies over compensation for lockdown losses. Last year, Corbin & King sued insurance firm AXA’s UK arm for refusing to cover business interruption claims incurred during the pandemic. The trial is scheduled to go to the High Court on Monday (24 January), with Corbin & King’s denial-of-access claim reportedly worth £4.5m.
Corbin & King features in Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is updated monthly for Premium subscribers and now features more than 500 companies. Corbin & King has turned over an average of £34.0m in the past five years. The Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, provides a five-year overview of turnover and profit, ranks companies according to turnover, pre-tax profit and profit conversion. The latest edition also features group editor Mark Wingett’s next quarterly pick of the companies well-placed to grow in the post-pandemic era. His latest pick of companies are Brakspear, Simmons Bars, Hub Box, Park Holidays, Vaulkhard Leisure, Hostmore, QFM Group, Caprice Holdings and Ivy Collection. The picks are accompanied by a 2,100-word report. The Blue Book also provides details of directors’ earnings and highest paid directors. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £445 plus VAT for operators and £545 plus VAT for suppliers. Email to sign up

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