Administrators to Carluccio’s are racing to find a buyer for the collapsed restaurant chain amid growing expectations that many of its rivals will fail to survive the coronavirus pandemic.
Sky News has learnt that FRP Advisory, which was appointed to handle the insolvency of Carluccio’s just over two weeks ago, asked prospective bidders to table offers by 5pm on Wednesday.
Industry sources said it was increasingly unlikely that a buyer would emerge for the whole company, which employs around 2,000 people at 71 sites across the UK.
A purchaser is far more likely to acquire the brand and a limited number of sites, they added.
Such an outcome would ensure Carluccio’s continued presence on British high streets but trigger substantial job losses.
Last week, FRP secured what it described as “a landmark court ruling” when it secured legal backing to for staff to receive part of their salaries through the coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Founded in 1999 by the late chef Antonio Carluccio, the brand become a prominent player in the UK’s casual dining culture.
Last month, Carluccio’s was among a large number of high street tenants who declined to pay their quarterly rent bills as they stared into the financial abyss created by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Carluccio’s had been in financial difficulty before, having over-expanded into questionable locations and agreeing excessive rent deals.
In 2018, it undertook a Company Voluntary Arrangement, which resulted in the closure of about 35 restaurants.
The company is owned by Landmark Group, a Dubai-based company.
FRP declined to comment.