The chief executive of casual Italian chain Carluccio’s has revealed that it was just two weeks away from folding last year, Big Hospitality reports. Speaking at the Casual Dining Show in London, Mark Jones revealed that the company, which had to close 35 restaurants as part of a Company Voluntary Agreement in 2018, had committed to opening too many “marginal sites”:
That was using all our cash and we weren’t spending enough on refurbishment, training and keeping the brand fresh. When you’re focusing on opening a restaurant a month that’s a huge distraction from your core business.
The chain was one of many high street restaurant groups to struggle through 2018. Famed chef Jamie Oliver admitted that his own restaurant group, including Jamie’s Italian, was hours from bankruptcy; Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Byron Burger, and steakhouse chain Gaucho were all forced to close restaurants.
In 2019, it’s clear that mid-market chains are having to think radically to stay afloat: speaking at the same event, Steve Richards, the outgoing chief executive of Casual Dining Group, which operates Bella Italia, Las Iguanas and Café Rouge, announced that the group will be trying to “think beyond walk-ins” and focus on delivery-only brands like croque monsieur and burger concept Stack + Grill, which launched last year.