Carluccio’s goes into administration putting future of restaurants in doubt

Carluccio’s today announced it had gone into administration amid the coronavirus lockdown as rent-to-own giant Brighthouse also collapsed in the latest turmoil to hit the high street. 

The London-based Italian food chain confirmed the future of its 102 restaurants and 2,000 jobs was now in jeopardy after it was forced to go into administration. The company is owned by the Dubai-based Landmark Group. 

The announcement provoked reaction on social media, with one fan calling it ‘very sad’ and another writing: ‘Sad news about Carluccio’s, I’m absolutely gutted’.  Some users weren’t as complimentary with Flotta Consulting describing the restaurant as ‘lack lustre’

Mark Jones, CEO of Carluccio’s restaurants poses for a photo at Carluccio’s Garrick Street in London

Carluccio’s, which was founded by Antonio Carluccio in 1991, confirmed it has hired advisory firm FRP to oversee its administration. 

The history of Carluccio’s 

The Italian chain was co-founded by chef and restauranteur Antonio Carluccio. 

Antonio Carluccio died in November last year aged 80.

The first Carluccio’s Caffé opened in 1999.

Carluccio’s has 102 restaurants, the majority in London.

The company is now owned by the Dubai-based Landmark Group.

It announced in 2018 it was in trouble as profits fell. 

Carluccio’s Ireland operation and its franchise business in the Middle East is unaffected by the administration.

Geoff Rowley, joint administrator and partner at FRP, said: ‘We are operating in unprecedented times and the issues currently facing the hospitality sector following the onset of Covid-19 are well documented.

‘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.

‘We welcome the latest update on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and look forward to working with HMRC to access the support it provides for companies in administration and their employees.

‘As this fast-moving situation progresses we will remain in regular communication with all employees and key stakeholders, and will provide a further update in due course.’   

Commenting on today’s news, Unite national officer, Dave Turnbull, said:

‘News of Carluccio’s collapse into administration could not come at a worse time for staff reeling from the coronavirus outbreak.

The UK-based Italian food chain confirmed the future of its 71 restaurants and 2,000 jobs was now in jeopardy after it was forced to go into administration

The UK-based Italian food chain confirmed the future of its 71 restaurants and 2,000 jobs was now in jeopardy after it was forced to go into administration

‘Staff were only last week at their wits’ end after the company announced a grotesque 50 per cent wage cut for March in response to the crisis. Now they’ve lost their jobs.

‘It’s a shabby way to treat loyal staff. No worker should be left to pay the price for a company’s mismanagement and bad boardroom decisions.

‘Like so many of its rivals Carluccio’s expanded too quickly after it was bought by the Dubai-based conglomerate Landmark Group in 2010.

The announcement led to a range of reactions on social media

The announcement led to a range of reactions on social media 

This worker criticised Carluccio's and asked how she would stay afloat following the announcement

This worker criticised Carluccio’s and asked how she would stay afloat following the announcement 

‘Carluccio’s directors and administrators must now do the decent thing in these unprecedented times and put the workers first.

‘This collapse reflects very badly on the company’s directors and owner Landmark Group, who have put profit and their get rich quick scheme ahead of their hardworking staff for too long.

‘Unite will be straining every sinew to ensure these workers get the sick pay, holiday pay and any outstanding wages and tips they’re owed, as well as pushing for a decent redundancy package,’ he added.

 The Godfather of Italian cooking: Celebrity chef and restaurateur Antonio Carluccio 

Antonio Carluccio was dubbed the Godfather of Italian gastronomy.

He died in November last year after falling at his home.

He was known for his restaurant chain Carluccio’s and a double act with chef Gennaro Contaldo in the BBC TV show Two Greedy Italians.

Before his death the chef had more work in the pipeline and was planning a trip across Italy’s Amalfi Coast next year, his representative said.

He was also working on a number of books and was in talks to appear on the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen. 

Jamie Oliver, who worked with him at his Neal Street Restaurant in London, gave a heartfelt tribute to his former boss following his death.  

The Italian chef was an effervescent character, full of culinary knowledge that was regularly utilised on TV shows – and his off-screen life was just as colourful. 

Carluccio, who arrived in Britain in 1975, was married three times. His final relationship was with archaeologist Sabine Stevenson, who was more than 20 years his junior, but they never wed.

He co-founded high street restaurant chain Carluccio’s in 1999 and sold his interest in it in 2005 for £5million but maintained involvement from a distance.

Carluccio, who received an OBE from the Queen for his services to the catering industry, wrote more than a dozen books based on Italian food.       

Meanwhile BrightHouse today appointed Grant Thornton to keep running the business, and collecting money from customers. 

Brighthouse said 2,400 jobs across 240 stores were now at risk as it urged customers to continue to make the monthly payments required to keep their household goods. 

Customers will still get their appliances looked after by the company, until their contracts run out, at which point the business will wind up. There will be no new rent-to-own sales.

The announcement came after the the UK's biggest rent-to-own operator BrightHouse, which controls 240 stores across the nation, confirmed that it too was now in administration

The announcement came after the the UK’s biggest rent-to-own operator BrightHouse, which controls 240 stores across the nation, confirmed that it too was now in administration

Administrators were appointed to Caversham Finance Limited, which trades as BrightHouse, and Caversham Trading Limited (CTL), which supports the business’s logistics, warranty and insurance claims, this morning.

Administrators said they ‘will continue to trade the businesses in line with Government guidance as to remote working or, where essential services are being carried out, only in circumstances where we can provide for employee and customer safety.’

The businesses had already started remote working before administrators were appointed, in response to the coronavirus outbreak. All stores were already closed.

The administrators said: ‘The logistics and engineering business of CTL will continue to assist in dealing with those customers who have claims for essential home item repairs and will continue deliveries of smaller items to customers’ doorsteps, to ensure where possible, customers’ products remain in working order.’

Coronavirus is wreaking carnage on the high street, with shoppers forced to stay away and use the Internet for goods they would have previously bought in bricks and mortar stores. 

Britain’s town centres were suffering even before the crisis, with 143,100 jobs lost in 2019 alone. 

Last week, the Restaurant Group announced it would close down the majority of its Tex-Mex Chiquito restaurants, while clothes retailer H&M threatened to walk away from 300-plus shop leases if sales did not match pre-coronavirus levels.

Today, retail group Monsoon Accessorize warned it could be sold after the impact of coronavirus cast a shadow over its turnaround plans.

The company, which runs the Monsoon and Accessorize chains, said it has hired advisers to assess options including a potential sale, in a bid to protect the company’s long-term future.

The two retailers, which employ around 3,500 staff, have shut all their stores after the Prime Minister told non-essential retailers to close their doors.   

Monsoon Accessorize has drafted in restructuring experts from FRP Advisory to work on possible scenarios.

It said the recent shutdown of its sites meant it was facing ‘exceptionally difficult times’ which could threaten its long-term future.

A Monsoon Accessorize spokesman said: ‘These options include a potential sale of some or all of the business.

‘No decisions have been made about the timing or nature of any steps the business may take.’

The retailer said that trading had improved at the start of the year, following its Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) restructuring deal last year, which secured rent reductions across a raft of sites. 

Meanwhile, Mothercare sent home 430 employees in the UK as the troubled company said the coronavirus outbreak is likely to impact its short-term revenue.

Key UK head office staff are still working from home, the company said, but its staff who look after the Boots Mini-Club brand have been furloughed with government support, the company said.

Mothercare said its experience of going into administration in the UK last year ‘is proving invaluable’ as it deals with the impact that coronavirus will have on its franchisees around the world.