Owner of Café Rouge and Bella Italia enters administration

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About 1,900 jobs have been lost as more than a third of outlets operating under the well known brands Café Rouge, Las Iguanas and Bella Italia have shut after their owner entered administration yesterday (2 July).

Casual Dining Group has struggled to pay rents for its outlets and has appointed Alix Partners, which is seeking offers for parts of the business. The company first applied to the High Court to appoint administrators in May.

Out of a total of 250 Casual Dining Group outlets, 91 are closing down, leaving 4,000 further jobs at the firm safe for now.

By far the biggest brands for the group are Bella Italia, with 112 restaurants (35 of which are closing); Cafe Rouge with 60 (32 closing) and Las Iguanas with 57 (11 shutting).

The group also owns four Belgian-themed Belgo restaurants and two brands with airport outlets: Huxleys and Oriel Grande Brasserie. Nearly all of these will be shut down.

The board said the group was looking for a new owner, but by entering administration it could end negotiations with landlords, which was a “critical step” in finding a buyer.

Several offers are said to have been made for the business, but all of them envisage a reduced restaurant estate, according to the firm.

Chief executive James Spragg said: “After reviewing all our options with advisers, it became clear that we needed to take this action in order to protect the business and secure the best possible future for Casual Dining Group as we look to conclude a potential sale.

“We are acutely aware of our duty to all employees and recognise that this is an incredibly difficult time for them. Working alongside the administrators we will do everything we can to support them through this process with a view to preserving as much employment as we are able to.”

Administrator Clare Kennedy, from Alix Partners, said: “We appreciate that this is an extremely difficult time for all those associated with Casual Dining Group.

“Our immediate priorities are to assist those whose employment has been affected by today’s announcement and to secure a sale for the group in order to protect jobs and provide the group’s much-loved brands with a sustainable platform for the future.”

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