Administration on menu at Carluccio’s

Italian high street restaurant chain Carluccio's has gone into administration, putting some 2,000 jobs at risk

The business was founded more than 20 years ago by celebrity chef and restaurateur Antonio Carluccio, and had already gone through a company voluntary agreement (CVA) in 2018. This saw the chain shut a third of its restaurants, citing the industry-wide problems hitting the casual dining sector. 

Carluccio’s, along with all other pubs, bars and restaurants, was forced to close its doors over a week ago as a result of measures announced by the government to combat the spread of coronavirus.

Geoff Rowley, joint administrator and partner at FRP Advisory, 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.’

Carluccio's Ireland operation and its franchise business in the Middle East is unaffected by the administration, the chain said.

FRP Advisory is believed to be considering options including mothballing the business using the government support schemes, as well as trying to sell all or parts of it.

Most of the company's 2,000 employees will be paid through the government's job retention scheme while these options are explored. This allows for staff to be paid up to 80% of their salary. There have been reports that Carluccio's staff had been assured that their March salary would be paid as normal, but when they got their payslips, they found that they had received only 50% of what they were owed.

Dave Turnbull, national officer at trade union Unite, said: ‘Staff were only last week at their wits' end after the company announced a grotesque 50% wage cut for March in response to the crisis. Now they’ve lost their jobs.

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

‘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.’

Report by Pat Sweet

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