Bella Italia, Las Iguanas and Cafe Rouge in restaurant bailout deal

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A new company is set to take over the Las Iguanas, Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge restaurant chain – and it is hoped that restaurants marked for closure will reopen soon.There was a shock last month after it was revealed that parent company, Casual Dining Group, had taken over, leading to the potential loss of nearly 2,000 jobs, with 91 of its 250 restaurants scheduled to close. The directors said they would undertake to sell the assets controlled by the London-based company, formerly Tragus Group.

Locally, this meant Bella Italia would pull out of Plymouth while Princesshay from Exeter bid farewell to her Café Rouge.

However, a new company – formed by private equity firm Epiris – has announced that it has successfully reached an agreement to take over the restaurant business, along with the existing management team led by CEO James. Spragg.

In a process managed by AlixPartners, the business formerly known as the Casual Dining Group (CDG) was acquired – for an undisclosed sum – from the administration, preserving more than 4,000 jobs across the Kingdom. -Uni and over 150 restaurants under the names of Las Iguanas, Bella Italia and Café Rouge.



Café Rouge-Exeter

The new company, through which Epiris has acquired, will be called The Big Table.

Epiris said it has invested “significant cash” in the business to help trigger a rapid unlock of the group’s operations, with its restaurant business starting to reopen across the UK next week. It has also made an additional commitment for future funding. The new business will have no external debt.

James Spragg said: “This is a very positive result for the company. We are delighted to have completed this process and to work with such experienced and knowledgeable investors. We inevitably emerge from this process as a lean enterprise, and one that is now equipped to meet the challenges facing the industry, preserving thousands of jobs. ”

Ian Wood, Partner at Epiris, said: “Like most of the industry, The Big Table restaurants have been closed since the end of March. We will work with James and his team to reopen the restaurants, allowing more than 4,000 people to take their leave. to allow customers to enjoy restaurant meals again. This transaction will allow the company to negotiate during the uncertain months ahead and invest in its three strong brands to provide an even better experience for their customers. ”

Clare Kennedy of AlixPartners added: “We have received a significant level of interest in the group, which is a testament to the strength of its management team, the affection with which its brands are carried by the public and the quality of its staff. We are extremely happy to have been able to help the group find a new investment partner with strong industry credentials and we wish both parties and all who work at The Big Table the best for a prosperous future. ”

The new management team said it would look to reopen the business “over the next few months” and build on the strong financial performance it was providing before the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

The group said they plan to open as many restaurants as possible in August – in time to support the UK government’s national Eat Out to Help Out initiative.

Mr Spragg said: “It has been an extremely difficult and troubling time for our teams and we are happy to plan now to reopen our doors and refocus our attention on what we do best, creating great experiences for our people. clients. “

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