Mon, 11 Dec 2023 | BUSINESS SALE
According to reports, TowerBrook Capital Partners is in talks over a potential disposal of the Azzurri Group of
restaurant chains. A source close to the deal was cited as saying that Rothschild is one of the leading contenders to handle a potential sale process.
The group, which TowerBrook acquired in a pre-pack deal in 2020, owns the Coco di Mama, Zizzi, Ask Italian and Boojum casual dining chains. Prior to 2020, Azzurri Group – which at the time comprised Ask, Zizzi and Coco di Mama – was one of the UK’s most successful casual dining chains, with all three brands delivering like-for-like revenue and profit.
However, the group, which was previously owned by Bridgepoint, collapsed in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns decimated the UK’s bloated casual dining sector, which had already been experiencing problems amid an overall decline in UK high street footfall.
TowerBrook subsequently acquired the business in a pre-pack deal, which secured 225 of the then approximately 300 restaurants in the chain, along with around 5,000 of the group’s workforce, which was around 6,000 strong prior to the pandemic.
At the time, Azzurri Group CEO Steve Holmes said: “The COVID-19 crisis has had a profound impact on the casual dining sector, bringing many businesses like ours to a standstill.”
“Despite being a successful operator, the immediate loss of revenue during the lockdown meant that we had to make some incredibly difficult decisions to protect the business for the long term.”
Earlier this year, Azzurri acquired a controlling stake in Boojum, an Irish-based Mexican-themed fast-food chain. The proportion of the stake and the deals financial details were not disclosed.
The possible disposal of Azzurri Group comes amid renewed M&A activity involving major groups in the UK’s casual dining sector. The Restaurant Group (TRG) recently sold chains including Frankie & Benny’s and Garfunkel’s to restaurant holding company The Big Table, while TRG itself is poised to be sold to Apollo Global Management.
Find out more about COVID-19's impact on the casual dining sector
Read about the UK's rising levels of insolvency
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