Caffe Nero on brink of rescue but loss-making branches face closure

Caffe Nero is on brink of rescue deal but loss-making branches face closure – in another blow to High Street as UK enters second devastating lockdown

  • Lenders to Caffe Nero have brought in financial advisers amid shutdown
  • Deal would enable coffee shop to reduce rent liabilities as city footfall decreases
  • The company operates 660 stores across the UK and around 5,000 people 

Lenders to Caffe Nero have brought in financial advisers ahead of a business restructure after being hit by the devastating effects of shutdown.

Alcentra and Partners Group – which provide mezzanine debt to Caffe Nero, one of the country’s biggest coffee shop chains – have drafted in FTI Consulting to advise on the implications of a company voluntary arrangement.

Caffe Nero would hold talks with the British Property Federation, which represents commercial landlords, on Friday to discuss the CVA plans.

Sources told Sky News that while a final decision on a CVA had yet to be taken, it was likely to be announced later this month.

A CVA would enable Caffe Nero to reduce its rent liabilities and exit loss-making stores If it gets launched, it would be the most recent insolvency mechanism unveiled by a major High Street hospitality business this year. 

Caffe Nero, like its rivals such as Pret a Manger, has been heavily impacted by the reduced footfall in city centres as millions of Britons work from home.

The company operates 660 stores across the UK, more than 90 per cent of which had reopened after the original shutdown ended in June.

Caffe Nero, which is working with KPMG on its options, is likely to seek steep rent cuts from landlords as part of any restructuring deal. 

The group, which employs about 5,000 people and is owned by Gerry Ford, is said to have been performing strongly prior to the pandemic. 

It comes after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that furlough would be extended until the end of March amid industry fears that shutdown could last six months.

Yesterday the Bank of England decided to pump another £150billion into the UK economy, which it said had gone into reverse because of the new lockdown.

In other coronavirus developments: 

  • Tory MPs lashed the Government for using ‘dodgy coronavirus data’ to justify a second lockdown in an echo of Britain’s war to Iraq in 2002-03;  
  • Travel quarantine could be slashed from 14 days to just five under Government plans which would deliver a major boost to the travel industry; 
  • Coronavirus cases remained flat at 24,141 today despite the PM justifying lockdown by claiming the NHS is under threat from soaring hospitalisations;
  • Cars are queuing outside Covid-19 testing centres in Liverpool as the city today kicks off England’s first city-wide mass testing scheme;
  • Manchester students tore down fencing erected around their halls of residence by the university as they warned of their mental health. 

Caffe Nero, like its rivals such as Pret a Manger, has been heavily impacted by the reduced footfall in city centres as millions of Britons work from home (shop at Heathrow Airport)

The group, which employs about 5,000 people and is owned by Gerry Ford, is said to have been performing strongly prior to the pandemic (file photo)

Yesterday the Bank of England decided to pump another £150billion into the UK economy, which it said had gone into reverse because of the new lockdown (file photo)

More than 10 per cent of UK hospitality chiefs say they could axe 50 per cent or more of their workforce by the end of the year, a YouGov poll has revealed

The data reveals nearly a fifth (18 per cent) of education-based businesses could also make cuts of between 20 and 29 per cent of their workforce by the New Year, while a third of bosses at legal firms across the UK believe they will have to cut up to 10 per cent of their staff 

Bosses of large (more than 250 employees) and medium (50-249 staff) businesses, firms in the hospitality sector and those in Scotland and Wales were most likely to make the biggest cuts, with some warning of cuts of up to 60 per cent of their workforce, the YouGov figures reveal

In September, a spokesperson for Caffe Nero said: ‘It has been a difficult period since lockdown measures were introduced by the government and we’re working incredibly hard to navigate our way forward.

Rishi’s furlough until MARCH is sign lockdown restrictions ‘will last a lot longer’ than December 2, experts warn – as Britons who have ALREADY been made redundant slam Chancellor’s £40bn U-turn 

Rishi Sunak’s U-turn on furlough is a sign lockdown might last a ‘lot longer’ than ministers are admitting, experts warned today.

The respected IFS think-tank delivered a withering verdict on the extraordinary shift as it said leaving millions of workers in limbo for a year could slow the economic recovery.

In a change that could cost the government £40billion, the Chancellor yesterday declared that 80 per cent of usual wages will be covered by the state until the end of March, up to a ceiling of £2,500 a month. Employers will only have to contribute national insurance and pension costs.

Mr Sunak also confirmed that grants for the self-employed will be paid at 80 per cent of average previous profits for November to January, rather than 40 per cent. 

But there is anger from a swathe of people who have already been made redundant, and claim Mr Sunak’s flip-flopping cost them their livelihoods.

Tories have also demanded to know how the huge package will be funded, amid fears of tax rises and austerity in the pipeline.

IFS director Paul Johnson said it ‘only literally a couple a weeks ago’ that Mr Sunak was saying he would target ‘viable’ jobs.

 

‘As part of this, we are working closely with advisors to help review our options and assist with our ongoing negotiations with landlords.’

Earlier this week John Lewis announced it will cut 1,500 head office jobs in an effort to bolster the business struggling because of shutdown. 

The John Lewis Partnership revealed the cuts as part of the next phase of its five-year plan to return it to sustainable profits by 2025. 

John Lewis – famous for its Christmas ads – is widely seen as a benchmark for High Street performance in the UK. 

But it received a serious blow earlier this year after its Waitrose arm was ditched by Ocado in favour of Marks & Spencer. 

The news came on the same day Lloyds Banking Group has said it plans to cut another 1,070 jobs as it continues a major restructuring programme.

John Lewis said Patrick Lewis, Executive Director, Finance had also decided to leave at the end of this year ending a 26-year career.

Chairman Sharon White said: ‘Our Partnership Plan sets a course to create a thriving and sustainable business for the future.

‘To achieve this we must be agile and able to adapt quickly to the changing needs of our customers.’

‘Losing Partners is incredibly hard as an employee-owned business.

‘Wherever possible, we will seek to find new roles in the Partnership and we’ll provide the best support and retraining opportunities for Partners who leave us.’

It comes a month after its flagship department store in Oxford Street was granted permission to change some shopping areas into offices.

The third to the eighth floors of the building have been earmarked to have their uses transformed. 

Lloyds said its latest restructuring move will result in a net reduction of around 740 roles, as it will also create a further 330 positions across the business.

It is the latest set of redundancies after the group restarted its major restructuring programme following the pandemic.

In September, it said it would slash 865 jobs mainly in its insurance, wealth and retail teams. 

A Lloyds Banking Group spokeswoman said: ‘This morning we shared changes to some of our teams and we can confirm a net reduction of around 730 roles.

‘These changes reflect our ongoing plans to continue to meet our customers’ changing needs and make parts of our business simpler.

A third of accommodation and food services businesses had ‘low or no’ confidence they would survive until the end of the year – even before the national lockdown was declared.

The alarming findings emerged in the latest official survey on the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy and society.

A swathe of hospitality firms are facing disaster after Boris Johnson imposed a month-long squeeze in England to control a surge in infections. 

But according to the Office for National Statistics research, the picture was already grim even before the restrictions emerged. 

The UK-wide survey found between October 5 and 18 just 75 per cent of accommodation and food service businesses were trading, compared with 85 per cent across all industries. 

‘The majority of colleagues briefed today will not leave until January at the earliest.

‘We will help colleagues who are affected find new roles and redeployment opportunities wherever possible.

‘Everyone will be given access to a package of training and support designed to help them secure their next position, whether within or outside of our business.

‘Change does mean making difficult decisions and our focus remains on supporting our customers, colleagues and communities.’

Rob MacGregor, Unite national officer, said: ‘Unite cannot comprehend why LBG would choose to cut 1,000 staff who have given the bank such commitment and dedication during a global pandemic.

‘These staff have worked tirelessly despite any risks to themselves.’

These latest cuts come less than a fortnight after it told most of its 65,000 staff to work from home until spring at the earliest.

Lloyds wants them to stay away from the office for at least the next five months.

It said it was following Government guidance urging employees to work remotely if they can.

The move by the bank came as a blow to the City of London, where it employs thousands.

About two-thirds are working from home, but staff are still serving customers at its 890 branches. 

Chris Williamson, an economist at the business consultancy IHS Markit, warned: ‘The pace of economic growth slowed in October to the weakest since recovery from the national lockdown began.’

Other large firms are closing offices or asking employees if they want to work from home for ever. The consultancy Deloitte could shut four offices, which would leave 500 people working from home.       

Government borrowing has been spiralling as tax revenues slump and the Treasury pours out bailout money

The 11 per cent contraction in GDP this year, as projected by the Bank of England, would be the worst for 300 years – eclipsing the downturn sparked by the First World War and Spanish Flu

He said economic output would be 11 per cent lower at the end of the year than it was at the start, and that unemployment would rise from the current level of 1.5million to 2.6million. Pictured: A closed pub in Soho tonight

Meanwhile the Bank of England yesterday warned that the UK economy has been put into reverse by Boris Johnson’s latest national lockdown.

Rules for shops during England’s lockdown

Shops that can stay open:

  • Food shops
  • Supermarkets 
  • Garden centres 
  • Retailers providing essential goods and services 

Shops that must shut (including but not limited to): 

  • Clothing
  • Electronics stores 
  • Vehicle showrooms 
  • Travel agents 
  • Betting shops
  • Auction houses
  • Tailors 
  • Car washes 
  • Tobacco and vape shops  

As tough new Covid-19 restrictions were imposed across England, the central bank slashed its forecast and said the recovery would take longer than previously feared.

Governor Andrew Bailey said the Bank now expected the economy to shrink again in the final three months of the year, having grown strongly between July and September as earlier lockdown measures were eased.

He said economic output would be 11 per cent lower at the end of the year than it was at the start, and that unemployment would rise from the current level of 1.5million to 2.6million.

Unveiling plans to pump another £150billion of emergency funds into the economy, Mr Bailey said: ‘We are here to do everything we can to support the people of this country – and we’ll do it and will do it quickly.’

He said the UK had never seen such economic disruption in peacetime, adding: ‘Even then, these numbers are unprecedented in terms of the scale.’

Critics of the latest restrictions seized on the forecasts. Tory MP Steve Baker, a member of the Commons Treasury committee, said such stark projections were one of the key reasons why he had voted against them this week.

But he added: ‘If we are to end this lockdown and all the harm it does we must now all comply. The situation could scarcely be more serious for people’s livelihoods.’ 

The Bank said it now expects the economy to shrink by 2 per cent over the last three months of this year, having previously forecast growth of 3.5 per cent.

This will leave the economy 11 per cent smaller by the end of 2020 than it was at the start – much worse than the 5.4 per cent contraction the Bank was expecting.

And despite the extension of the furlough scheme announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday, the peak unemployment rate will now likely be even higher than the 7.5 per cent initially expected at 7.75 per cent. This would mean the second lockdown costing an extra 80,000 jobs, leaving 2.64million people out of work.

With the new lockdown forcing many businesses to close again, the Bank was expecting about 5.5million people to fall back onto the furlough scheme, up from some two million at the end of October.

The Bank said it expects the second lockdown to end on December 2, the deadline given by the Prime Minister, though it believes the UK will go straight back into the localised tier system.

It also predicted restrictions will be lifted further at the end of March next year, although the economy will not regain lost ground until the first three months of 2022, several months later than initially hoped.

Economists said, however, that the predictions looked ‘overly optimistic’. Ruth Gregory, senior UK economist at Capital Economics, said: ‘Our view is that it will take until 2023 for the economy to return to its pre-pandemic level.’ 

How nearly 215,000 job losses have been revealed by major UK firms since lockdown began 

Some 214,651 job losses have been announced by major British employers since the start of the coronavirus lockdown in March:

  • November 4 – John Lewis – 1,500 
  • November 4 – Lloyds – 1,070 
  • October 29 – Pizza Express – 1,300 
  • October 7 – Greene King – 800 
  • October 6 – Virgin Money – 400 
  • October 6 – Vp – 150 
  • October 5 – Cineworld – 5,500 (many cuts likely to be temporary) 
  • September 30 – TSB – 900 
  • September 30 – Shell – 9,000 worldwide 
  • September 29 – Ferguson – 1,200
  • September 22 – Wetherspoon – 400 to 450
  • September 22 – Whitbread – 6,000
  • September 18 – Investec – 210
  • September 15 – Waitrose – 124
  • September 14 – London City Airport – 239
  • September 9 – Lloyds Bank – 865
  • September 9 – Pizza Hut – 450
  • September 4 – Virgin Atlantic – 1,150
  • September 3 – Costa – 1,650
  • August 27 – Pret a Manger – 2,800 (includes 1,000 announced on July 6)
  • August 26 – Gatwick Airport – 600
  • August 25 – Co-operative Bank – 350
  • August 20 – Alexander Dennis – 650
  • August 18 – Bombardier – 95
  • August 18 – Marks & Spencer – 7,000
  • August 14 – Yo! Sushi – 250
  • August 14 – River Island – 350
  • August 12 – NatWest – 550
  • August 11 – InterContinental Hotels – 650 worldwide
  • August 11 – Debenhams – 2,500
  • August 7 – Evening Standard – 115
  • August 6 – Travelex – 1,300
  • August 6 – Wetherspoons – 110 to 130
  • August 5 – M&Co – 380
  • August 5 – Arsenal FC – 55
  • August 5 – WH Smith – 1,500
  • August 4 – Dixons Carphone – 800
  • August 4 – Pizza Express – 1,100 at risk
  • August 3 – Hays Travel – up to 878
  • August 3 – DW Sports – 1,700 at risk
  • July 31 – Byron – 651
  • July 30 – Pendragon – 1,800
  • July 29 – Waterstones – unknown number of head office roles
  • July 28 – Selfridges – 450
  • July 27 – Oak Furnitureland – 163 at risk
  • July 23 – Dyson – 600 in UK, 300 overseas
  • July 22 – Mears – fewer than 200
  • July 20 – Marks & Spencer – 950 at risk
  • July 17 – Azzurri Group (owns Zizzi and Ask Italian) – up to 1,200
  • July 16 – Genting – 1,642 at risk
  • July 16 – Burberry – 150 in UK, 350 overseas
  • July 15 – Banks Mining – 250 at risk
  • July 15 – Buzz Bingo – 573 at risk
  • July 14 – Vertu – 345 July 14 – DFS – up to 200 at risk
  • July 9 – General Electric – 369
  • July 9 – Eurostar – unknown number
  • July 9 – Boots – 4,000
  • July 9 – John Lewis – 1,300 at risk
  • July 9 – Burger King – 1,600 at risk
  • July 7 – Reach (owns Daily Mirror and Daily Express newspapers) – 550
  • July 6 – Pret a Manger – 1,000 at risk
  • July 2 – Casual Dining Group (owns Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge) – 1,909
  • July 1 – SSP (owns Upper Crust) – 5,000 at risk
  • July 1 – Arcadia (owns TopShop) – 500
  • July 1 – Harrods – 700
  • July 1 – Virgin Money – 300
  • June 30 – Airbus – 1,700
  • June 30 – TM Lewin – 600
  • June 30 – Smiths Group – ‘some job losses’
  • June 25 – Royal Mail – 2,000
  • June 24 – Jet2 – 102
  • June 24 – Swissport – 4,556
  • June 24 – Crest Nicholson – 130
  • June 23 – Shoe Zone – unknown number of jobs in head office
  • June 19 – Aer Lingus – 500
  • June 17 – HSBC – unknown number of jobs in UK, 35,000 worldwide
  • June 15 – Jaguar Land Rover – 1,100
  • June 15 – Travis Perkins – 2,500
  • June 12 – Le Pain Quotidien – 200
  • June 11 – Heathrow – at least 500
  • June 11 – Bombardier – 600
  • June 11 – Johnson Matthey – 2,500
  • June 11 – Centrica – 5,000
  • June 10 – Quiz – 93
  • June 10 – The Restaurant Group (owns Frankie and Benny’s) – 3,000
  • June 10 – Monsoon Accessorise – 545
  • June 10 – Everest Windows – 188
  • June 8 – BP – 10,000 worldwide
  • June 8 – Mulberry – 375
  • June 5 – Victoria’s Secret – 800 at risk
  • June 5 – Bentley – 1,000
  • June 4 – Aston Martin – 500
  • June 4 – Lookers – 1,500
  • May 29 – Belfast International Airport – 45
  • May 28 – Debenhams (in second announcement) – ‘hundreds’ of jobs
  • May 28 – EasyJet – 4,500 worldwide
  • May 26 – McLaren – 1,200
  • May 22 – Carluccio’s – 1,000
  • May 21 – Clarks – 900
  • May 20 – Rolls-Royce – 9,000
  • May 20 – Bovis Homes – unknown number
  • May 19 – Ovo Energy – 2,600
  • May 19 – Antler – 164
  • May 15 – JCB – 950 at risk
  • May 13 – Tui – 8,000 worldwide
  • May 12 – Carnival UK (owns P&O Cruises and Cunard) – 450
  • May 11 – P&O Ferries – 1,100 worldwide
  • May 5 – Virgin Atlantic – 3,150
  • May 1 – Ryanair – 3,000 worldwide
  • April 30 – Oasis Warehouse – 1,800
  • April 29 – WPP – unknown number
  • April 28 – British Airways – 12,000
  • April 23 – Safran Seats – 400
  • April 23 – Meggitt – 1,800 worldwide
  • April 21 – Cath Kidston – 900
  • April 17 – Debenhams – 422
  • March 31 – Laura Ashley – 268
  • March 30 – BrightHouse – 2,400 at risk
  • March 27 – Chiquito – 1,500 at risk

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