Owner of Bella Italia and Café Rouge to cut 1,900 jobs as it enters administration

2 July 2020, 18:30

The owner of Bella Italia and Café Rouge has fallen into administration
The owner of Bella Italia and Café Rouge has fallen into administration. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The owner of Bella Italia, Café Rouge and Las Iguanas is to cut 1,900 jobs as it falls into administration.

Casual Dining Group (CDG) said it would close 91 of its 250 UK restaurants, but has saved others for now, protecting the jobs of around 4,050 workers.

It comes after John Lewis, Topshop owner Arcadia and Harrods announced more than 1,000 job cuts on Wednesday, while Upper Crust owner SSP Group announced up to 5,000 jobs could go.

On Tuesday night, Airbus announced it plans to cut 15,000 jobs, including 1,700 in the UK and Easyjet said it was looking at plans to close bases at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle, with nearly 1,300 people facing job cuts.

CDG's board agreed that entering administration was in the best interest of stakeholders during the "extreme operating environment" it is having to endure.

The company is currently looking for a new owner but said entering administration would allow it to end negotiations with landlords, which is seen as a "critical step" before it finds a buyer.

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."

All the offers the firm's bosses have received so far would require the group to reduce the number of sites it operates, therefore the administrators decided to close the restaurants permanently.

The list of closures includes 35 Bella Italia chains, three Belgo site, 32 Cafe Rouge restaurants, and 11 of its Las Iguanas locations.

It also includes several cafés and bars at airports, six of which are at London's Heathrow.

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."

Meanwhile, TM Lewin has also said around 600 people will lose their jobs as it closes all its UK branches, while on Monday, Byron Burger entered administration to prevent collapse.

Last week, the UK's biggest shopping centre owner Intu also collapsed into administration following talks with lenders.

And in sport, Wigan Athletic Football Club has gone into administration, the first professional club to do so since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.