Argentine steakhouse chain Gaucho has been bought out of administration as part of a rescue deal that will see all restaurants remain open and Martin Williams, the founder and CEO of M Restaurants, step in to help drive its future growth.
The group’s parent company, Gioma, owned by private equity firm Equistone, called in administrators in July amid continuing financial difficulties, blamed on the poor performance of its sister chain of restaurants, Cau. All 22 Cau restaurants were immediately closed, with the loss of 540 jobs.
Gaucho operates 13 restaurants in the UK and three overseas in Hong Kong, Dubai and Buenos Aires, and is renowned in the UK not just for its focus on steak but also as leading restaurants for the promotion of Argentine wine.
This week it was confirmed that Lomo Bidco Limited (“Lomo Bidco”), a new company created and owned by Investec Bank plc and SC Lowy, had acquired the chain, striking a deal based on the approval of a company voluntary agreement (CVA), allowing the business to restructure its debt, that will see all 16 Gaucho restaurants remain open, saving about 750 jobs.
Oliver Meakin, chief executive of Gaucho, has already announced that he will be standing down as part of the deal, with Martin Williams, the chief executive and founder of M Restaurants, stepping in to work with key stakeholders to “drive the next stage of Gaucho’s development”.
Matt Smith, a partner at Deloitte, added: “We are delighted Investec and SC Lowy have agreed to purchase Gaucho, which offers the best outcome for all parties. Gaucho is a profitable and successful business and with the support of its new owners can now focus on its future growth plans.”
Investec Bank and debt specialist SC Lowy, who were together owed about £50m by Gaucho’s parent Gioma, plan to acquire the Argentinian-themed chain’s 16 restaurants which employ 750 people via a credit bid.
A spokesman for Investec said: “We have supported Gaucho since 2016 and continued to provide support to the business through the difficult conditions experienced in 2018. We know the Gaucho team well and have significant confidence they can reinvigorate and grow the Gaucho brand.
“In light of this we have acted in conjunction with SC Lowy to ensure the survival of Gaucho. We believe the creditor group will support the necessary CVA allowing Gaucho shortly to exit administration so we can take the business forward.”