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Gaucho chain calls in administrators

The Gaucho chain of steak houses has announced it intends to appoint administrators in a move that puts 1,500 jobs at risk.

The chain’s owners, private equity firm Equistone had presented lenders with a number of solvency solutions for the 16-sites and sister chain, Cau, as previously reported, but to no avail.

According to the BBC, a spokesperson said that an “agreed, solvent solution” had proven impossible to reach, with high debt levels and the “ongoing underperformance” of Cau all blamed.

A source close to the matter noted that Equistone had made several offers to both fund the company in the event of a voluntary administration of Cau and buy out the debt of its lenders but a rejection of these offers had compelled Gaucho’s directors to file notice to place the company into administration.

The formal statement meanwhile concluded: “Until such time as the administrator has been appointed and agreed plans with management, it is business as usual.”

Gaucho operates 13 restaurants in the UK and three overseas in Hong Kong, Dubai and Buenos Aires.

It is renowned in the UK not just for its focus on steak but also as leading restaurants for the promotion of Argentine wine.

Its closure could very well have a knock on effect for Argentine wines in the UK. Gaucho’s director of wine, Phil Crozier, was recently appointed ambassador for Wines of Argentina in the UK and Europe and has, in fact, formally left the ailing chain.

Gaucho is not the first big name on-trade business to feel the pinch this year. Jamie’s Italian, Carluccio’s and Byron Burgers have all been forced to close multiple sites and longstanding Soho haunt The Gay Hussar has also been closed down.

Most recently 28°-50° Fetter Lane, the wine-focused restaurant founded by chef Agnar Sverrisson and Xavier Rousset, was sold to Cliffords Restaurant Limited.

Last month, it was reported that the number of restaurants in the UK had fallen for the first time in eight years, according to new figures.

Around two restaurants per week have closed over the past year to March, according to CGA’s market report, which predicts the number of sites across the UK will continue to fall throughout 2018.

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