Bids have been made for parts of the Carluccio’s business after the dining chain collapsed into administration, as it appears increasing unlikely a buyer will be found for the whole business.
It is understood that interested parties have offered to buy restaurant sites and the brand, after the deadline for bids closed on Wednesday evening.
Supermarket giant Tesco is understood to have expressed an interest in purchasing a small number of sites, to be potentially converted into Express stores.
Carluccio’s, which employs around 2,000 staff, slid into administration last month after the impact of coronavirus exacerbated the firm’s long-standing financial difficulties.
However, bids have not been forthcoming for the entire 71-site business with potential investors cautious about purchasing the business as a whole, according to trade publication Propel.
It is understood that a mix of professional investors and food businesses have highlighted their interest to the administrators at FRP Advisory.
Byron Burger investor Three Hills Capital is among the potential bidders touted to buy a number of sites as well as the brand name.
It is understood that, before the collapse, Three Hills held talks over a merger between Carluccio’s and Byron.
Boparan Restaurant Group, the operator of Giraffe, Ed’s Easy Diner and Slim Chickens, has also reportedly expressed an interest in some of the sites.
The majority of staff at the chain, founded by Antonio Carluccio in 1991, have been furloughed while the insolvency specialists assess all available options.
The company hailed a “landmark ruling” last week as it secured legal backing for staff to receive part of their salaries through the Government’s coronavirus Job Retention Scheme despite the insolvency process.
In March, FRP said Carluccio’s faced “significant cash flow pressures” on the back of the coronavirus pandemic and was unable to meet its financial obligations.
Carluccio’s is owned by Dubai-based Landmark Group, which bought the business for £90 million in 2010.