The owner of the Giraffe restaurant chain is on the verge of striking a deal to buy Carluccio’s, the stricken casual dining group, that will save roughly 900 jobs.
Sky News has learnt that Boparan Restaurants, which is owned by the so-called “chicken king” tycoon Ranjit Boparan, is to conclude a takeover of the Carluccio’s brand, head office and approximately 30 restaurants in the coming days.
One source said a transaction with FRP Advisory, which was appointed as administrator to the chain in March, could be announced as soon as Monday evening.
If completed as expected, the deal is expected to involve retaining roughly 900 employees, meaning that more than 1,000 are likely to be left facing redundancy.
Boparan Restaurants’ takeover will guarantee at least a short-term future for a brand that has become a fixture on affluent high streets during the last 20 years.
The chain was founded in 1999 by the late chef Antonio Carluccio, and expanded rapidly during the last decade, at one point operating from more than 100 sites.
In 2018, it underwent a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), enabling it to cut rents and close roughly 35 loss-making restaurants.
Until its recent insolvency amid the COVID-19 crisis, the company was owned by Landmark Group, a Dubai-based company.
It traded from 70 sites until its collapse.
The rescue of parts of Carluccio’s comes amid unprecedented strain on the casual dining sector, with continued uncertainty about the potential viability of thousands of sites when they are allowed to reopen but with social distancing measures in place.
UKHospitality, the industry body, has estimated that it could take at least six months after the lockdown ends for restaurants to return to 70% of normal trading levels.
Since the coronavirus outbreak began, restaurant chains including Prezzo and Wahaca have called in advisers to help restructure their finances.
Byron, the burger chain, has launched a sale process, while in addition to Carluccio’s, Chiquito’s has fallen into administration.
FRP declined to comment on Monday morning.