Cornwall burger chain Hub Box sold after collapsing into administration

Inside a Hub Box restaurant
-Credit: (Image: Shannon Brown/Plymouth Live)


South West burger chain Hub Box has been sold to a new owner after collapsing into administration. All 10 of its restaurants will continue to trade and about 300 jobs have been saved thanks to the deal.

The Cornwall-headquartered company has been hit hard by inflation, labour costs and interest rate hikes. In January it announced a £1.256m loss and revealed it had to ask shareholders to inject nearly £500,000 into the business to get it through this winter.

Today, July 11, it fell into administration but was immediately sold in a pre-pack deal to South West Restaurants Limited. Administrators said the deal meant Hub Box’s future had been secured.

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The restaurants in Truro, St Ives, Pentewan, Falmouth, Exeter, Cardiff, Cheltenham, Dorchester, Taunton and Portsmouth will continue to trade and all staff will transfer to the new owner. Hub Box has been working with advisers from Interpath Advisory to explore investment options that could keep it in operation and provide for expansion.

But the advisors said that despite seeing consistent revenue growth during the past three years, the company had recently been impacted by rising food, energy, interest and labour costs. With pressure on cash flow increasing, the directors sought to explore investment options, including a sale of the business.

But when a solvent solution could not be found, they took steps to seek the appointment of administrators. Consequently, Steve Absolom and Will Wright from Interpath Advisory were appointed joint administrators to Hub Box Ltd on July 11.

Immediately following their appointment, the joint administrators sold the business and assets of the company to South West Restaurants Ltd. Sam Birchall, head of special situations at Interpath Advisory, who led the transaction, said: “Hub Box has grown a loyal customer base in the South West but, like many other casual dining operators, has been hit hard in recent years by high cost inflation.

“We’re pleased to have secured this transaction which safeguards the future of the brand and which, importantly, preserves employment for 300 staff. We wish all at the company the best for the future.”

Hub Box began life in a shipping container in 2012, originally as a Christmas pop up. The company - which counts Loungers’ co-founders Alex Reilley, who chairs the business, and Jake Bishop amongst its directors - expanded to 11 restaurants including one in Plymouth’s city centre.

That moved to the Royal William Yard in 2022 but shut within two years as the firm struggled despite increased sales. Hub Box Ltd’s annual report and financial statements for 2022 revealed the restaurants remain popular and turnover rose to £14.88m from £12.32m in 2021.

But the company made a pre-tax loss of £1.148m, up from a loss of £282,000 the year before. The overall loss for the financial year was £1.256m.

The business had to put a stop on opening any new restaurants and was stuck with an empty unit in Barnstaple which it decided not to turn into an eatery but still had to pay rent on. When Hub Box opened its new restaurants in Plymouth’s Royal William Yard and in Dorchester, both were hit by rising construction costs. Electricity bills also went up in October 2022 and cuts had to be made at the head office in Truro.