Travers Smith LLP has advised the Azzurri Group and its joint administrators on its sale through administration to US investment management firm TowerBrook Capital Partners (TowerBrook). The Azzurri Group is a market leader in the Italian casual dining sector, operating ASK Italian, Zizzi and Coco di Mama with some 300 sites across the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.
Like many other companies across the casual dining sector, the Group has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown. The transaction involves the sale of the brands and certain assets of the Group to TowerBrook, securing the future of approximately 225 restaurants and shops, and safeguarding the jobs of circa 5,000 employees. However, approximately 75 sites fall outside the scope of the transaction and will subsequently close. The joint administrators have confirmed these closures have resulted in circa 1,200 redundancies.
Will Wright, joint administrator and partner at KPMG commented "Azzurri's three brands have been popular fixtures on our high streets for many years, so we are pleased that, following a competitive sales process, we have been able to conclude this transaction, which preserves the majority of the group's restaurants and shops".
The Travers Smith team was led by Restructuring & Insolvency Partner Edward Smith with support from Senior Associate Natalie Scoones, Associate Kirsty Emery and Trainee Katie Hindley. The wider team included Private Equity & Financial Sponsors Partner Ian Shawyer supported by Associate Rachel Taggart, Tax Partner Jess Kemp supported by Senior Associates Sivanti Devakumar and Silvana Van der Velde, Employment Partner Alex Fisher supported by Associate Shani Edwards, and Real Estate Senior Counsel Sarah Walker supported by Associate Harriet Large.
This is the latest high-profile restructuring and insolvency mandate in the retail and leisure sector for Travers Smith. Previous experience includes advising the administrators of Laura Ashley on the sale of its brand to US restructuring and investment firm Gordon Brothers; the joint supervisors of the CVA for Debenhams; and brands including Carpetright, Carluccio's and Giraffe Restaurants on their respective CVAs.
TowerBrook was advised by Sidley Austin with financial advice provided by PwC. The lenders were advised by Clifford Chance, with financial advice provided by FTI Consulting.