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Jamie Oliver suffers fresh blow as Barbecoa owner heads for chop

Bradley Gerrard
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is understood to be purchasing the St Paul's site of Barbecoa, whose parent company Barby is set to enter administration - Getty Images Europe

Jamie Oliver is scrambling to salvage part of of his failed steak chain Barbecoa via a controversial pre-packaged deal with administrators.

Barbecoa’s parent company Barby Ltd this evening formally appointed Alix Partners to wind up its business.

Mr Oliver was meanwhile manoeuvring to buy the flagship Barbecoa restaurant near St Paul's back from the insovency process.

It remained open today and Mr Oliver was preparing to use a new acquisition vehicle set up at the start of the month, One New Change Ltd, to continue the brand.

Such pre-packaged deals can allow failed businesses to continue trading but are often unpopular with creditors, who can be left nursing heavy losses.

The Barbecoa branch in London's Piccadilly did not open today and is not expected to reopen.

Barby Ltd owed more than £2m to trade creditors and had a bank overdraft of more than £1.6m at the start of 2017, according to the latest accounts filed at Companies House.

Creditors will have to submit claims once Alix Partners is formally appointed to pursue what they are owed. Staff at the Piccadilly Barbecoa will be paid in full including their notice periods, a source said.

The failure of Barbecoa comes after sales fell 12pc in 2016 to £7.2m following the permanent closure of its butchery outlet. It had previously had to close for 24 hours after serious hygiene problems including mouse droppings, mould on carcasses and out-of-date wagyu beef were found by inspectors.

Barbecoa has also been squeezed by increased business rates and intense competition.

Its collapse is a new blow for Mr Oliver's business empire. His Jamie’s Italian chain recently announced the closure of 13 restaurants and extracted 30pc rent reductions on 11 other sites.

Mr Oliver is not the only player suffering in a brutal casual dining market. The burger chain Byron recently announced closures and rent cuts and Italian chain Strada is closing a third of its restaurants.