Italian restaurant chain Carluccio’s has been bought out of administration by the owner of Giraffe restaurants.
The deal saves 800 jobs and 30 sites, but 40 restaurants and more than 1,000 jobs will be lost, more than half the total workforce.
Administrators ARP said the coronavirus lockdown meant difficult decisions had to be taken.
New owners Boparan Restaurant Group also own Fishworks and Ed’s Easy Diner restaurants.
Until the sale, most of the company’s 2,000 employees were being paid through the government’s job retention scheme.
This allows for staff to be paid up to 80% of their salary.
“The COVID-19 lockdown has put incredible pressure on businesses across the leisure sector, so it has been important to work as quickly and as decisively as possible in an extremely challenging business environment to secure a sale,” said Phil Reynolds, Joint Administrator at FRP.
Satnam Leihal, managing director of Boparan Restaurant Group, described Carluccio’s as a “quality brand” and said good restaurants “will recover in the long term as people return to eating out”.
Before the outbreak it was hit by the crunch in the casual dining sector and recently urged the state to step in.
Restrictions aimed at curbing the coronavirus pandemic forced most cafes and restaurants to close in March, but some have reopened as takeaways only.
Carluccio’s has faced some difficult times in recent years, closing a third of its restaurants in 2018as part of a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) rescue plan.
Like many mid-market restaurants, it has felt the brunt of a fall in consumer spending, combined with higher business rates, and increases in the minimum wage.
It is also a market with much competition. Italian dining rivals Prezzo has also been forced to close restaurants while Jamie’s Italian went into administration last year.
The chain was founded more than 20 years ago by celebrity chef and restaurateur Antonio Carluccio, who died aged 80 in 2017.