Connect with us

Featured

Coronavirus: Restaurant chain Prezzo latest to kick off sale process | Business News

Published

on

Another of the high street’s ubiquitous Italian restaurant chains has begun exploring a sale as it seeks new backers to enable it to survive the coronavirus crisis.

Sky News has learnt that Prezzo has asked FRP Advisory, the professional services firm, to lead an auction of the business as it prepares to reopen dozens of sites after four months under the COVID-19 lockdown.

The sale process, which will follow a number of expressions of interest in the business from unnamed parties, adds to a crowded field of restaurant brands whose owners are looking to offload them amid the most difficult period in the industry’s history.

Prezzo, which employs about 3,000 people, is part-owned by TPG, the American buyout giant, along with a number of other funds.

A source close to the business said its shareholders had decided that the company would benefit from a simplification of the current ownership structure.

The chain is said to have been trading positively prior to the introduction of the UK-wide lockdown in March.

Its owners are said to be planning to sell the company as a going concern.

Prezzo trades from about 180 restaurants, 35 of which will reopen over the course of several weeks, starting on Saturday.

:: Listen to the The World Tomorrow on Apple podcasts, Spotify, and Spreaker

The remaining 145 sites will open during the course of the summer.

The attempt to engineer a sale comes less than two years after the chain axed dozens of outlets through a financial restructuring that included a debt-for-equity swap.

Most Prezzo employees have been furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The company is run by Karen Jones, its executive chairman, who is one of the best-known figures in Britain’s hospitality industry.

Prezzo’s prospective sale comes as the ASK Italian and Zizzi chains – both part of Bridgepoint-backed Azzurri Group – close in on a sale, with the private equity firms Epiris and Towerbrook seen as the likeliest contenders.

Sky News revealed this week that another restaurant mini-conglomerate, Casual Dining Group, had seen bids for its Las Iguanas brand from Endless and Trispan, with Aurelius Equity Opportunities keen to acquire the Bella Italia and Café Rouge chains.

CDG's franchise restaurant brands include Bella Italia, Cafe Rouge and Las Iguanas
Image:
CDG’s franchise restaurant brands include Bella Italia, Cafe Rouge and Las Iguanas

The flurry of restaurant auctions comes amid deep uncertainty about the industry’s ability to generate sufficiently meaningful revenues in a post-lockdown economy to stay afloat.

Industry bosses have warned that hundreds of thousands of jobs are at risk, despite various reliefs and financial assistance provided to it.

Since the start of the pandemic, chains including Carluccio’s and Chiquito have crashed into administration, while others, such as the burger chain Byron, are looking for new owners.

A Prezzo spokeswoman declined to comment.

Advertisement Find your dream job

Trending