Epiris – The Big Table – acquires Las Iguanas, Bella Italia and Café Rouge – Hospitality & Catering News

The Big Table acquires Las Iguanas, Bella Italia and Café Rouge

A new business formed by private equity firm Epiris has successfully concluded a deal to take control of the Las Iguanas, Bella Italia and Café Rouge restaurant businesses, in concert with the existing management team led by CEO James Spragg.

In a process handled by AlixPartners, the business formerly known as Casual Dining Group was acquired from administration, preserving more than 4,000 jobs across the UK and over 150 restaurants trading as Las Iguanas, Bella Italia and Café Rouge.

The new business, through which Epiris has made the acquisition, is to be called The Big Table.

Epiris has invested significant cash into the business to help spark a rapid unlocking of the group’s operations, with its restaurant businesses starting to reopen across the UK next week. It has also made a further commitment for future funding. The new business will carry no external debt.

James Spragg commented: “This is a very positive outcome for the business. We are delighted to have concluded this process and to be working with such experienced and knowledgeable investors.  We inevitably emerge from this process as a leaner business, and one that is now equipped to navigate the challenges the industry faces, safeguarding thousands of jobs.”

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Ian Wood, Partner at Epiris, said: “In common with most of the sector, The Big Table’s restaurants have been closed since late March. We will work with James and his team to re-open the restaurants, bringing over 4,000 people off furlough to enable customers to enjoy dining out again. This transaction will enable the business to trade through the uncertain months ahead and invest in its three strong brands to deliver an even better experience for their customers.”

Clare Kennedy of AlixPartners added: “We received a significant level of interest in the group which is a testament to the strength of its management team, the affection in which its brands are held by the public and the quality of its people. We are extremely pleased to have been able to help the group find a new investment partner with such strong industry credentials and we wish both parties and everybody who works at The Big Table all the very best for a successful future.”

The management team, led by Spragg, with Adrian Walker as CFO, will look to reopen the business over the coming months and build on the robust financial performance it was delivering before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.  The group plans to open as many restaurants as possible during August – in time to get behind the UK Government’s national Eat Out to Help Out initiative.

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The new Big Table moniker is a reference to a far-reaching internal culture programme at the former CDG business that championed togetherness, diversity and inclusivity amongst all members of its business.

Spragg added: “This has been an extremely difficult and unsettling time for our teams and we’re pleased to now be planning to reopen our doors and re-focus our attention on what we do best, creating great experiences for our guests.”

The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

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