EAT appoints advisors to consider options

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EAT, the Lyceum-backed chain, has become the latest sector operator to call in advisors to assess its options in an increasingly harsh trading environment.

The c110-strong company is working with KPMG on a restructure of the business which could lead to a number of store closures.

At the start of last year, the sandwich chain, which has been led by ex-Pret a Manger managing director Andrew Walker, restructured its balance sheet, reducing its debt and increasing equity by £94.5m.

The group, which reported that 2016 had been a “challenging year”, said that the debt for equity swap demonstrated Lyceum’s confidence in the business in the face of significant sector headwinds, and “creates a much stronger platform for future growth, providing funds for both investment and expansion”.

It said it had returned to like-for-like growth since the start of 2017 and was exploring transport hub expansion opportunities both in the UK and overseas.

The company subsequently made its international debut, with an opening at Madrid Airport, Spain.

At the same time, group made its retail sector debut in partnership with Compass Group at two Debenhams stores.

Lyceum, which backed a management buy-out of the chain in 2011, recently abandoned plans to raise a £400m fund, blaming weaker sentiment among international investors.

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