Christmas Favourites Eric Debenhams and Ernie Wahaca - Back by Popular Demand

Posted on Nov 16, 2020. by NTI

You can't have a week without a Tuesday in it and you cannot have a Des without an O'Connor (God bless the dimpled crooner; you have absolutely no idea what you are reading, do you? ...). Checking in on our pre-advent calendar this fine November Monday (16th), we opened a door to see the inevitable Debenhams, perched there sheepishly on the back of a ragged robin surrounded by dowdy tinsel and the stench of defeat.

J D Sports is a British sports-fashion retail company based in Bury and it has poked its head above a familiar parapet to run the gamut over Debenhams. It has been permitted access to 'the data room', which cannot be a very pretty place, walking in the footsteps of people such as an NTI newsroom favourite, Mr Michael Ashley, but is holding its cards more deftly than a prima donna magician, as no-one we talked to seemed to know what exactly they are interested in or ... well, anything really. However, news on the high street is that their interest is genuine and we think that if this naffs off the porcine Ashley that is reason enough to report it.

Some have it that Ashley's Fraser group is not yet completely out of the running for Debenhams and, be honest, it is not often you see the word 'running' and 'Ashley' in the same sentence, is it? At least, not without the word 'sore' suffixing the first of those two words when describing a metaphor of his personality. News is sketchy about this piece, so we will nimbly nip to the second half of today's festive duo, another favourite - Wahaca. A professional newsroom cannot afford the luxury of favourites but, let's be honest, if there is one casual dining chain worth saving it is the delectable Mexican street-food restaurant co-founded by Thomasina Miers, who is not a stranger to the epithet 'Masterchef'. And, my, can she and her team cook.

None other than Nandos has stepped in, headed by South African Dick Enthoven who has acquired a majority stake in Wahaca’s parent company, Oaxaca Limited. The creditors of this fabulous place last month agreed to a Company Voluntary Arrangement, enabling some smiling member of staff with outlandish verve to write out the acronym 'CVA' on the paper place-setting of the company (for such they do when they serve you at this little gem of goodness). This enabled the group to close 11 restaurants, leaving it with 13 sites that are mainly in London. WOT? Not the one in Southampton where you can go, eat and drink in 17 minutes and then pop up to 'Galleries' at the luxury cinema next door and be offered a 'free' bento box of morsels of wonder? Come on Dick, have another look at that branch.

Wahaca's other co-owner, Mark Selby said: “As laid out in our published CVA we had to raise new cash in order to take the business forward in the strongest position possible. As part of that, Yellowwoods have lent money to Wahaca alongside their equity stake in the business.” 

"What about the Southampton branch, Mark?" yelled someone from the back of the press room.

"Who is that?" asked Mark Selby, "who let him in? Isn't this supposed to be a serious press-briefing?"

"It's a fundamental part of date-night, oi, let go of my leg you donkey. Hey, that hur ..."

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