Le Pain Quotidien’s UK operations have been sold in a pre-pack administration deal, Sky News reports.

The transaction will preserve 16 of Le Pain Quotidien’s 26 UK sites, with the buyer understood to be a subsidiary of BrunchCo21 SA, a newly formed company believed to be connected to Cobepa, a Belgian-based investment firm that is the chain’s existing backer.

Sources said the deal was structured as a pre-pack administration overseen by Alvarez & Marsal, the professional services firm.

It is understood to involve the closure of LPQ’s UK head office and ten of its restaurants.

It is expected that around 200 staff will be made redundant following the pre-pack sale.

Talks with landlords about the lease arrangements on the remaining 16 sites are understood to be planned in the coming weeks.

The new owners are expected to invest additional sums in the UK business when the takeover completes, but further details of that investment are unclear.

BrunchCo, which is also in the process of acquiring LPQ’s French and Belgian operations, is understood to have agreed a separate deal for M80, a Belgian private equity investor, to become its majority shareholder.

Its passage through insolvency makes Le Pain Quotidien the latest prominent casual dining business to be forced into administration by the COVID-19 pandemic.