The Italian restaurant chain Carluccio’s has collapsed into administration, leaving more than 2,000 jobs at risk. It looks to be the highest-profile permanent closure since the Government told restaurants to shut amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Carluccio’s has been a mainstay of British high streets for 20 years, having been set up by celebrity chef Antonio Carluccio in 1999. Far from being top billing, it was a popular and largely consistent restaurant chain for those in need of an affordable lunch.
But on Monday, Geoff Rowley, of financial firm FRP Advisory, which was appointed administrator of Carluccio’s on Monday, said the the business will likely be mothballed.
All is not lost. The measures being taken are designed to protect its 2,000-plus workers, who under the Government’s new Job Retention Scheme, a product of coronavirus, will be given 80 per cent of their wages.
And while the group’s 71 branches have closed, a buyer is being sought for some part of the business. Such is the strength of the brand, it could be that a handful of restaurants live on when the industry is back up and running.
Rowley 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.
Carluccio’s is by no means alone in its struggle. Analysts believe a number of chains may be consigned to the scrapheap during the crisis, with or without Treasury aid.