Côte Restaurants became the latest casual dining chain to undergo a restructuring after being acquired by new investors via a pre-pack administration.
The group of almost 98 French brasseries will suffer the closure of three outlets operating under its other brands — Limeyard and Jackson & Rye — with the loss of 56 jobs, but the Côte brand remains intact. The sale of the Côte Restaurants business to Partners Group, a private markets investment manager, secures the future of 94 restaurants and 3,148 jobs.
The pre-pack administration of Côte came on the same day that creditors of Pizza Hut Restaurants voted to approve a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) to facilitate the closure of 29 of its 244 sites across Britain with the loss of up to 450 jobs. The franchised chain, owned by management and backed by Pricoa Capital, said that it had resorted to a CVA in a bid to reduce its annual rent obligations of £23 million, which it could no longer afford in the light of rising costs and the impact of Covid-19.
A spokeswoman for the pizza chain said: “The outcome provides us with a strong platform to secure the long-term future of the business including over 5,000 jobs and over two hundred restaurants. Our focus is now ‘business as usual’, supporting all of our team members and continuing to provide a Covid-safe restaurant experience for our guests.”
Côte, which was founded in 2007, said that it had been trading well before lockdown, with record sales and strong growth in underlying earnings in its last financial year. In response to the crisis it had achieved a successful launch of Côte at Home, an online shop delivering meals, fresh meat and wines. Jane Holbrook, the former chief executive of Wagamama, is joining the board as chairwoman, replacing Andrew Page, the former chief executive of The Restaurant Group. Alex Scrimgeour, its chief executive, is staying on under the new owners.
In the financial year ending July 28, Côte Restaurants lifted revenue by 7 per cent to £10.2 million, with underlying earnings up from £17.9 million to £18.4 million. Earlier this month, Côte appointed advisers from FTI Consulting to explore its options, including a possible debt-for-equity swap.
Other companies to undergo administrations or CVAs during the pandemic include Carluccio’s, The Restaurant Group, Casual Dining Group, Pizza Express, Azzurri Group, Yo! Sushi and Byron.