Gino D’Acampo’s kitchen nightmare: Iceland boss forced to rescue celebrity chef’s railing restaurant chain with £12.9m bailout
Gino D’Acampo’s loss-making chain of upmarket Italian restaurants had to be rescued with a £12.9million bailout even before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
The money was lent from a linked restaurant company owned by the celebrity chef’s co-investors, Iceland bosses Sir Malcolm Walker and Tarsem Dhaliwal.
It followed four years of losses totalling £7.6million. D’Acampo’s restaurant chain was founded in 2015, with an initial branch at Manchester’s Corn Exchange.
In a pickle: Celebrity chef Gino D’Acampo’s restaurant chain had to be rescued with a £12.9m bailout even before the Covid-19 pandemic hit
It has since branched out to eight sites in northern England and Birmingham, promising to be ‘the best Italian in town’.
The 45-year-old’s lavishly-furnished eateries promise ‘crowd-pleasing classics inspired by my travels and what’s in season’.
Suppliers are said to be ‘hand-picked’ to ‘ensure we are getting the finest meat, vegetables, herbs and fruits from here in the UK and Italia’.
Despite the chain’s financial woes, D’Acampo appears to be expanding his empire – having launched a business venture with Spanish hotel company Melia.
The chef has opened First Street Bar and Kitchen, at Melia’s INNside hotel in central Manchester and there are plans for further restaurants at Melia hotels around the UK.
Separately, D’Acampo’s My Pasta Bar business, which has two branches in central London, is £5million in debt.
It also appears to have been bailed out by businesses controlled by Walker and Dhaliwal.
The My Pasta Bar branch in Leadenhall Market in the City was still decorated with its logos but a sign was hanging in the window, apologising for its closure until further notice due to coronavirus. An identical notice hung in the window of the Fleet Street restaurant.
A source said: ‘As to why Gino’s restaurants have lost so much money, I don’t really know.
‘I would guess the relationship between him, Sir Malcolm and Tarsem Dhaliwal is pretty fraught, given the losses and the fact he’s gone away opening these new restaurants with someone else now. The losses must have gone up even more because of the pandemic.’
Gino D’Acampo Worldwide Restaurants Limited made losses of £997,000 in 2017, £530,000 in 2018, £2.9million in 2019 and £3.1million in 2020.
Accounts for 2020 show Gino D’Acampo Worldwide Restaurants owed £12.9million to Individual Restaurants – which runs Piccolinos and The Restaurant Bar and Grill. The sum is believed to include a bank loan of £7.125million taken out in 2019.
Walker, Iceland’s founder and executive chairman, controls Individual Restaurants along with Dhaliwal, managing director of the frozen food supermarket chain.
Despite small annual operating profits of around £2million, exceptional items resulted in Individual Restaurants Limited making pre-tax losses of £10.2million over three years between 2017 and 2019. It has not yet filed accounts for 2020.
The company, which has more than 40 branches, was subject of a pre-pack administration deal last November.
It was bought by another firm controlled by Walker and Dhaliwal and its head office moved to Iceland’s headquarters in Flintshire, North Wales.
Steven Walker, managing director of Gino D’Acampo Worldwide Restaurants and Individual Restaurants – who is no relation of Sir Malcolm – said: ‘The restaurants have been trading well since they reopened.’
He said the £12.9million bailout was simply ‘a transaction within the group’.
D’Acampo is the sole director of his pasta bar business. The company, The Pasta Bar Specialists, has borrowed heavily.
Its 2019 accounts reveal £4million of loans from Steven Walker, Gino D’Acampo Worldwide Restaurants and The Restaurant Bar and Grill. Walker and Dhaliwal did not wish to comment. D’Acampo did not respond to requests for comment.