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Coronavirus: 6,000 jobs at risk as Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge on the brink

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
Cafe Rouge restaurant, Cambridge City Centre. Photo credit should read: Doug Peters/EMPICS

Fears are growing for the future of thousands of workers at Bella Italia, Cafe Rouge and Las Iguanas, with the restaurants’ owner battling to survive.

Parent company Casual Dining Group confirmed it could go into administration, which would protect it “from any threatened potential legal action from landlords” as it looks for a path out of the crisis.

Around 6,000 staff are reported to work at more than 100 Bella Italia restaurants and dozens of Cafe Rouge and Las Iguanas branches across the UK.

The company had said earlier on Monday it was working on a restructuring plan, with its revenue collapsing since the lockdown in March left restaurants empty.

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Casual Dining Group confirmed to Yahoo Finance UK it had filed a notice of intent to appoint administrators with the High Court. It said the move gave it 10 days’ breathing space to consider “all options,” and it does not oblige the company to call administrators in.

A spokeswoman said: “As is widely acknowledged, this is an unprecedented situation for our industry and, like many other companies across the UK, the directors of Casual Dining Group are working closely with our advisers as we consider our next steps.

“These notifications will also protect the company from any threatened potential legal action from landlords while we review the detail of the government advice, and formulate a plan for the company in these difficult times.”

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The company is the latest in a line of high street names to run into serious trouble as the pandemic has blown a hole in their finances. Many have struggled

Many leading restaurant and retail chains were already struggling before the crisis, with Jamie’s Italian forced to close restaurants after falling into administration last year.

Trade body UKHospitality warned over the weekend many companies were being “aggressively pursued” by landlords over rent despite their income evaporating. It warned rent deferrals were no solution, and fears “wide-scale job losses and business failures in the coming months.”