Employees of Carluccio’s were thrown a possible lifeline after administrators outlined plans to put the restaurant chain’s 2,000-strong workforce on leave of absence.
FRP Advisory, the restructuring specialist appointed to handle the administration yesterday, said that the Italian chain’s workers would be paid under the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme while it urgently assessed “all available options”.
The joint administrators to Carluccio’s said that the options being considered included “exploring the opportunity to mothball the business utilising government support, as well as speaking to interested parties regarding the sale of all or parts of the business”.
Carluccio’s was founded in 1999 by Antonio Carluccio, the celebrity chef. For the past decade it has been owned by the Dubai-based Landmark Group, which has invested more than £100 million in the business. Like other casual dining businesses, it has been hit in recent years by higher costs and over-expansion. It closed 35 restaurants in 2018 as part of a company voluntary arrangement to cut costs and today it has 71 outlets.
Geoff Rowley, joint administrator and partner at FRP, said: “In the absence of being able to continue to trade Carluccio’s, in the short term we are urgently focused on the options available to preserve the future of the business and protect its employees.”
Carluccio’s is unlikely to be alone in being tipped over the edge by the government’s order that all restaurants must close to stop the spread of Covid-19. Last week, The Restaurant Group filed a notice of its intention to appoint administrators to Chiquito, its Mexican chain, putting 1,500 jobs at risk. Other familiar names could follow.