Struggling Polpo chain to close two sites

Polpo, Russell Norman’s pioneering Venetian-inspired restaurant group, is to close two of its sites after it emerged the company owes £550,000 in unpaid tax.

Russell Norman’s Italian chain Polpo owes £550,000 to HRMC in unpaid taxes

As reported by Eater, according to a letter sent to the group’s creditors by Ellwell Watchorn & Saxton, Polpo owes HRMC £550,000 in unpaid tax.

The struggling restaurant group is seeking to close two central London sites in order to pay off its debts.

In 2017 a new management team was appointed, which, according to Eater, led to “a decline in operational standards and performance” due to the team’s lack of engagement with the day-to-day management of the business.

The letter also blames high management salaries and unprofitable investments in marketing agencies and high-speed Internet connectivity as contributing to Polpo’s debts, coupled with a decline in customer footfall.

The news follows Polpetto in Soho being put on the market for £95,000 after the departure of former head chef Anthea Stephenson after just two months.

The other ailing site is thought to be Polpo Notting Hill, which is also on sale. Founded in 2009 by Russell Norman and Richard Beatty, Polpo was one of the first places in London to champion the small plates concept outside of Spanish, Greek and Middle Eastern restaurants.

Polpo speciaises in cicchetti – Venetian tapas dishes designed to be shared. It also runs Spuntino, a counter top restaurant inspired by gritty New York diners. An offshoot of Spuntino recently opened at Heathrow T3.

The group’s model of small plates, no reservations, low-hung filament bulbs and artily distressed décor has been widely copied around London.

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