Alix Partners have been manically busy of late and the NTI newsroom heard on the grapevine that they were planning to go out for a slap up team meal at Cafe Rouge this evening to celebrate surviving another week. Well, they are still nipping over to Cafe Rouge, but not for baby carrot and shallot tartin followed by Poulet Breton, but to have a chat with their staff. It is sort of 'good news - bad news', but it won't feel that way for huge numbers of families this evening, as The Casual Dining Group, which owns Bella Italia, Las Iguanas and Café Rouge, entered Administration, with dozens of restaurants across the UK at risk. We have reported on this before on the NTI app and are standing clear as more shrapnel from the casual dining industry in the UK rains down, but although more than 1,900 jobs are set to be axed from the Group,4,000 are reportedly secure for now.
We are only two days away from being permitted to sit in restaurants on single seats wearing hermetically sealed jump-suits, but the options of where to go are reducing on an almost daily basis. 91 of the Cafe Rouge and Bella Italia outlets are to close with immediate effect (including the one in Leicester, we reckon) and joint Administrator Clare Kennedy, of Alix Partners (who won first prize with NTI in her Joint Board exams a few years ago now), said, "Our immediate priorities are to assist those whose employment has been affected by today's announcement, and to secure a sale for the group to protect jobs."
The NTI newsroom reported in May that the Casual Dining Group were exploring their options with Alix Partners, a source saying that, “restaurant closures and job losses” were expected as part of a restructuring, as were “brand administrations and company voluntary arrangements”. Another said the company was seeking “flexibility in rental structure” from landlords, adding, “it is very hard to reopen a site with a rental bill set on full revenue levels”. But we mustn't forget that Administration is a good thing and there are few better or more practised at it than Alix. if there are jobs to be saved they are the ones to save them.
It hasn't been the best of days, though, with smart-end retailers such as John Lewis and Harrods announcing job cuts and the former is never knowingly understaffed. More news to follow, we were all going out for pasta and an over-expensive sofa this evening, but are changing our plans.