The restaurant chains which collapsed, restructured and slashed jobs in 2020

Henry Saker-Clark, PA City Reporter
·7-min read

The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating effect across huge areas of the UK economy, but few areas felt as hard an impact as the hospitality sector.

Restaurants, pubs, bar, cafes and leisure venues were forced to shut their doors in March when the virus first struck the UK.

Venues started to reopen their doors to customers again in July but were then hamstrung by local restrictions, a 10pm curfew, new service rules and a second national lockdown in England in November.

Thousands of venues are still shut as a result of restrictions across the UK.

As a result, the virus has helped drive a raft of already troubled dining chains towards collapse.

Hundreds of restaurants and venues have shut their doors for good as firms have tumbled into administration and launched dramatic restructuring deals to keep them trading.

Some have been kept alive by new owners or funding deals, while others have turned to landlord support through Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) deals to cut rents.

Here is a list of restaurant and hospitality chains which have collapsed into administration in 2020:

Carluccio’s

The Italian dining chain tumbled into administration days after restaurants were told to shut their doors temporarily due to the virus.

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The Carluccio’s restaurant chain entered administration in March (Tim Goode/PA)

The business – which was founded by Antonio Carluccio in 1991 – hired insolvency specialists in March after the impact of coronavirus exacerbated the firm’s long-standing financial difficulties.

In May, the brand and 30 of its restaurants was saved in a rescue deal by Giraffe and Ed’s Easy Diner owner Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG), although it still resulted in 1,019 job losses at Carluccio’s.

Byron Burger

Burger chain Byron is another dining brand which had been attempting to carve out a path to recovery following a CVA deal in 2018.

However, it hired administrators from KPMG in the summer after the virus halted its turnaround.

Byron administration
Burger chain Byron hired administrators from KPMG (Yui Mok/PA)

In July, KPMG said the brand and certain assets would be sold to newly-formed company Calveton.

The move preserved the company and 20 restaurants, but resulted in 651 job losses as 31 restaurants were axed.

Azzurri Group

The ASK Italian and Zizzi owner closed 75 of its restaurants with 1,200 job losses after collapsing into insolvency.

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Zizzi owner Azzurri Group was bought by Towerbrook in a rescue deal (Tim Goode/PA)

Azzurri, which also runs the Coco di Mama food-to-go chain, was rescued in a pre-pack administration deal by investment firm TowerBrook Capital Partners.

The deal secured the future of 225 restaurants and shops, protecting 5,000 jobs.

Casual Dining Group

At the start of July, Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge owner Casual Dining Group became the latest casualty of the crisis as it confirmed it hired administrators and was shutting 91 restaurants with 1,909 job losses.

The group, which also operated Las Iguana, said it had to enter insolvency due to its “extreme operating environment”.

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Cafe Rouge in Wellington Street, London (Victoria Jones/PA Wire)

At the end of the month, it was bought in a rescue deal by former TGI Friday owner Epiris, which saw the restaurant group rebranded as The Big Table.

Chiquito

In March, the Mexican chain said it would slash more than three-quarters of its sites after owner The Restaurant Group (TRG) was placed into administration.

TRG said the move, which also resulted in the closure of its Food & Fuel pubs in London, would close 61 Chiquito restaurants and leave just 20 standing.

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Sixty Chiquito restaurants were shut during its administration (Mike Egerton/PA)

It said insolvency was necessary after the pandemic proved the death knell for its already unprofitable sites.

Less than three months later, TRG announced a CVA deal to shut 125 of its other restaurants, including a raft of Frankie & Benny’s locations, as it sought landlord support to secure its future.

Gourmet Burger Kitchen

Gourmet Burger Kitchen fell into administration after South African owners Famous Brands said the virus put an end to improvements in trading it saw last year after a major restructuring process in 2018.

The group was rescued by Boparan Restaurant Group, five months after its similar deal for Carluccio’s.

Despite being saved from insolvency, the chain said it would close 26 restaurants and axe 362 roles.

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Gourmet Burger Kitchen was bought out of administration by Giraffe owner BRG (Rick Findler/PA)

Bistrot Pierre

Private equity-backed French chain Bistrot Pierre was bought in a pre-pack administration deal after struggling to secure funding during the pandemic.

Administrators concluded a sale of the business and certain assets to a connected party, Bistrot Pierre 1994 Ltd, although the move resulted in six closures and 123 redundancies.

Le Pain Quotidien

The cafe chain fell into administration after challenging trading conditions were exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis.

However, its administrators secured the sale of the UK business and 15 sites to newly-formed business BrunchCo. Nevertheless, 11 sites and 200 jobs were axed as a result.

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Eleven restaurants were shut after Le Pain Quotidien entered insolvency (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Alongside the administrations, these restaurants have launched CVA restructuring processes to avoid insolvency:

Pizza Express

The pizza chain finally felt the pressure of its hefty debt burden in 2020 after the pandemic forced its restaurants to shut their doors.

Pizza Express restaurant closures
Pizza Express cut its debt load by £400 million in a refinancing move (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

However, the company secured its future after landlords voted in favour of CVA which resulted in 73 restaurant closures and 1,100 job losses.

The move also secured rent reductions across a raft of sites, reduced its debt by over £400 million to £319 million and secured £40 million in new cash to aid its recovery.

Pizza Hut

In September, Pizza Hut became the latest pizza chain to take the axe to its store estate to avoid collapse.

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Pizza Hut cuts 450 jobs during its restructuring process (Andrew Matthews/PA Wire)

It pushed through a restructuring deal which resulted in the closure of 29 of its 244 restaurants, impacting 450 jobs.

Pizza Hut said the move would protect about 5,000 jobs across its remaining restaurants as well as the “longevity” of the business

Wahaca

Mexican restaurant chain Wahaca permanently shut the door to more than a third of its restaurants through its restructuring.

The chain, which was co-founded by former Masterchef champion Thomasina Miers, closed 10 of its restaurants after Covid-19 hammered profitability.

Yo! Sushi

Creditors for the sushi chain gave the thumbs up to a CVA deal which spelled the end of the road for 19 of its restaurants and cut around 250 jobs.

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Yo Sushi said around 250 jobs were impacted by its CVA (Steve Parsons/PA)

The chain said the affected restaurants were “no longer financially viable” and had unsustainable rental costs for the current trading environment.

Itsu

Food-to-go chain Itsu turned to a CVA to secure rent cuts at 53 of its sites after sales in central London were battered by dwindling commuter numbers.

The chain, which was founded by Julian Metcalfe, said it would shut two locations as part of the move.

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The food-to-go chain launched a restructuring deal after increased home working weighed on sales (Nick Ansell/PA)

Wasabi

Rival food-to-go Japanese chain Wasabi also pushed through a CVA deal in the summer to protect its long-term future.

Wasabi said it secured additional funding from its investors as it received approval for rent cuts across its estate.

Leon

Healthy fast food operator Leon passed a CVA restructuring in December which secured the future of its 670 workers.

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Leon launched a CVA restructuring deal earlier this month (Leon/PA)

The group had planned to expand with 30 new sites in 2020 but saw growth plans halted by the pandemic, which heavily impacted its sales at city centre and travel hub locations.

Caffe Nero

The cafe chain saw creditors support its restructuring deal after it turned down a last minute takeover attempt by the billionaire brothers behind petrol forecourt giant EG Group, Zuber and Mohsin Issa.

Caffe Nero rejected the move but pushed forward with its CVA instead to secure rent cuts and changes to lease structures.

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Caffe Nero secured a CVA after turning down a last minute takeover offer (Peter Byrne/PA)

Revolution

Bar chain Revolution closed six sites permanently and cut 130 roles after its major restructuring was given the go ahead.

It said 88% of creditors supported its CVA deal, which also slashed rents at seven bar locations.