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Wed 26th Jan 2022 - Jeremy King – We plan to thwart this move and buy Corbin & King out of administration
Jeremy King – We plan to thwart this move and buy Corbin & King out of administration: Jeremy King, co-founder of London-based restaurant operator Corbin & King, which was put into administration by its majority shareholder Minor Hotels yesterday, has said himself and business partner Chris Corbin plan to buy the company out of administration. King said: “There is absolutely no need to go into administration, we are trading extremely well and all suppliers, staff etc continue to be paid. It is a power play for the holding company by Minor and their press release misrepresents. We plan to thwart this move and buy it out of administration.” Yesterday, Minor Hotels said it had been “left with no choice” but to place the business into administration after Corbin & King was unable to meet its financial obligations. Minor stated: “Minor International Public Company (MINT) can confirm Geoff Rowley and Ian Corfield, partners at FRP, have been appointed as joint administrators to Corbin & King. Corbin & King is the holding company for the Corbin & King Group, which operates a number of London’s leading restaurants, including The Wolseley, Brasserie Zédel and The Delaunay. The appointment of administrators does not affect the operations of the restaurants within the group, which continue to trade. The joint administrators were appointed after Corbin & King was unable to meet its financial obligations. The joint administrators will now consider all their options in line with relevant statute and will provide further information to creditors in due course. Prior to the appointment of the administrators an attempt to place an unauthorised moratorium filing was made. This was undertaken without board approval and was subsequently required to be withdrawn. As the majority shareholder in Corbin & King – having held a 74% shareholding interest and a controlling board position in the company since 2017 – MINT is committed to preserving and building upon the business’s iconic brands.” Earlier this month, Corbin & King made court filings as proof of being solvent to protect itself in an ongoing battle with Thai leisure group Minor Hotels. In 2017, Minor, one of the largest hotel operators in the Asia Pacific, bought out Graphite Capital, which had backed Corbin & King since 2012. Yesterday it said: “As the largest lender to the business – having already provided £38m worth of direct loans and loan guarantees – MINT remains committed to supporting the Corbin & King Group through this period of uncertainty.” Corbin & King is believed to be lining up financial backing from US-based fund, Knighthead Capital Management. Sky News reported Knighthead, which reaped a multibillion-dollar paper gain by helping rescue car rental provider Hertz from bankruptcy, is said to have been in talks with King for months. The dispute with Minor comes as Corbin & King has begun a court case where it is suing insurance firm AXA’s UK arm for refusing to cover business interruption claims incurred during the pandemic. The High Court is being asked to examine the scope of Corbin & King’s so-called denial of access insurance cover, which compensates companies if their venues are shut by a statutory body because of a local “danger”. The FT reports that Jeffrey Gruder QC, barrister representing Corbin & King, told the court that it was not a requirement of the policy clause that the “danger” or “disturbance” should be exclusively confined, or limited, to a localised area as AXA has claimed. “If there is a contagious disease within one mile of the premises, it would be improbable that its incidence would be exclusively confined within that radius. The hallmark of a contagious disease is that it spreads rapidly and easily by human contact and movement,” Gruder said. AXA denies the claim and in written arguments to the court, its barrister Aidan Christie QC said the insurer was not liable to indemnify the hospitality group because the policy clause provides only “a narrow, localised form of cover” rather than for a national situation. The High Court is also being asked to examine whether Corbin & King’s claims are limited to just £250,000 payable by AXA in respect of all premises – or whether there is a limit of £250,000 for each set of premises, as Corbin & King contends.

Host of regional restaurant operators to join updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies: A host of regional restaurant operators are among the 87 new multi-site companies being added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released on Friday 28 January, at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, features Ayrshire-based Kitchen 77, which is a six-strong independent restaurant group owned by Chris Steele. Also included this month is Nottingham-based operator Alex Fuge, who has added a sixth venue to his portfolio following the opening of Strezza, a new wood-fired pizza and tapas restaurant. Meanwhile, TJK Hospitality, owned by renowned DJ’s Tom Zanetti and Kane Towning, which is opening a second site in Leeds following its debut in 2019, will be featured. In addition, Glasgow-based burger restaurant concept El Perro Negro, which was founded by Nick Watkins, Peter McKenna and Ivan Stein and currently operates two sites, has been included. Premium subscribers will also receive a 6,500-word report on the new additions to the database. The comprehensive database is updated monthly and provides company names, the people in charge, how many sites each firm operates, its trading name and its registered name at Companies House if different. It features more than 2,000 companies. Premium subscribers will also receive the sixth edition of the New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock, on Friday, 4 February, at midday. It focuses on newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and is updated every month. The sixth edition also includes a 25,000-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to another database – the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group. The Blue Book, which is also updated monthly, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. 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 jo.charity@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out, regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel group editor Mark Wingett.

Fridays lines up opening in Chelmsford: Fridays, part of newly listed hospitality business Hostmore, has further strengthened its openings pipeline, by securing a site in Chelmsford, Essex. Located on Springfield Road, the company said the circa 8,600 sq ft site will be a flagship restaurant for the group, seating more than 250 covers inside with an additional 26 covers available outside. The news comes only days after the group revealed its 86th restaurant would be opening in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. Robert B. Cook, Fridays chief executive, said: “There’s absolutely no denying the love for Fridays in Essex. Our existing sites in Basildon and Lakeside are always buzzing with fantastic people and we are beyond excited to be opening a flagship store in Chelmsford, the heart of the county, as a result. There’s nothing quite like that iconic Fridays service and spirit of generosity and we can’t wait to share that, and our new and best ever menu, with the people in this energetic city. See you soon Chelmsford!” Earlier this month, Hostmore, the parent company of Fridays and the 63rd+1st concept in the UK, said it aimed to open potentially up to 30 additional quick service restaurant (QSR) sites across the UK in the next three years, subject to the brand’s success. As previously revealed by Propel, the company confirmed it will open the first “Fridays and Go” site on the former Fatburger unit in Dundee’s Reform Street. Spanning circa 2,600 square foot, the new restaurant is expected to open in March.

Compass Group bans air freight of fresh produce as it continues net zero journey: Catering company Compass Group has banned air freight of fresh fruit and vegetable produce as it continues it pledge to become net zero by 2030. The ban will see a focus on increasing the use of local and seasonal products, while Compass chefs have been reworking menus to accommodate the changes. The group will also now use free-range eggs in the UK and introduce white eggs into the supply chain. Compass’ procurement division, Foodbuy, which has a dedicated sustainability team reviewing its supply chain and looking at how Compass can support suppliers to become more sustainable, has led the measures. Anne Simonnet, head of sustainability and compliance at Foodbuy, said: “Fruit and vegetable produce is our second biggest buying category, so to have none of these items air freighted is significant. We have worked hard to find suppliers that are closer to home with no compromise on quality. We will continue to engage with our partners and suppliers to reduce emissions and focus on animal welfare.” Carolyn Ball, director for delivery of net zero at Compass Group UK & Ireland, added: “We must match our intent with the urgency to act, and we would like to thank our partners, suppliers, colleagues and clients for supporting us on the journey so far.”

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