The billionaire Ranjit Singh Boparan has bought the Carluccio’s brand and 31 restaurants in a deal that rescues more than 800 jobs.
About 40 further outlets of the ailing chain, which called in administrators in March, will be permanently shut, with the loss of 1,000 jobs. All the Carluccio’s outlets are currently closed and its staff are on furlough.
Boparan, 53, has made his fortune in the food business and owns the Giraffe and Ed’s Easy Diner chains as well as Fox’s Biscuits and a vast supermarket chicken empire.
More than 30,000 pubs and restaurants ‘may not reopen after lockdown’
Phil Reynolds, a joint administrator of Carluccio’s and a partner at the corporate restructuring firm FRP, said: “The Covid-19 lockdown has put incredible pressure on businesses across the leisure sector, so it has been important to work as quickly and as decisively as possible in an extremely challenging business environment to secure a sale, which ensures the future of the Carluccio’s brand in the UK casual dining scene.”
The buyout of Carluccio’s marks the latest expansion of Boparan’s empire. He has been labelled the “chicken king” as he is the co-owner and founder of 2 Sisters Food Group, which supplies about a third of the chicken on UK supermarket shelves. The company, which also owns Fox’s Biscuits, was the subject of parliamentary and food watchdog inquiries in 2017 after a Guardian and ITV News undercover investigation into food standards at a 2 Sisters chicken plant.
Boparan’s interests also include the turkey producer Bernard Matthews and the upmarket Cinnamon Club restaurant in London, as well as Boparan Restaurants group, which operates 140 outlets across six chains.
Satnam Leihal, the managing director of Boparan Restaurant Group, said: “This acquisition is in line with our strategy to grow our restaurant group with quality brands. While it is an extremely challenging time for the sector, we believe quality hospitality businesses will recover in the long term as people return to eating out.”
Boparan is extending his empire as restaurants and pubs face intense financial pressure during the coronavirus crisis. UK operators have been closed since the end of March and will not be allowed to open to diners until at least 4 July, when the third step in the government’s lockdown easing plan is due to take place, if progress in tackling the virus allows. Even then, businesses are expected to have to operate with strict physical-distancing rules, which are likely to dramatically affect profits.
Carluccio’s was founded by the late chef Antonio Carluccio in 1999 and was owned by Landmark Group, a Dubai-based retail and hospitality conglomerate.
Restaurants that have been rescued
Bristol, Cribbs Causeway
London, Islington Development Kitchen
London, Marriott Heathrow
London, Marriott Regents Park
London, South Kensington
London, St Christopher’s Place
London, St Pancras Station
London, Waterloo Station
Manchester, Trafford Centre
Dublin Dawson Street
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