Paramount Restaurants has seen its debt reduced from £64m to £25m, after coming to a new agreement with its banking group, Barclays, HSBC and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). The restructure has left the operator of the Chez Gerard, Brasserie Gerard, Livebait and Bertorelli brands with a revolving credit facility of £1m and an overdraft of £1.4m. The news of the restructure, which includes the formation of a new holding company – Chez Gerard Restaurants Limited – comes as the group reported a pre-tax loss of £29.241m for the 79 weeks to 2 January 2011, compared to a loss of £9.106m in the 53 weeks to 28 June 2009. In accounts filed at Companies House, the company said that turnover stood at £84.008m for the 79 weeks compared to £69.427m in the previous period, while its operating losses widened from £8.175m to £26.937m. The group said that it had traded at a loss for an extended period and that its directors had undertaken a number of steps to improve operational performance including a major cost reduction programme, which is targeted to make the on-going group cash positive in 2012. The company said that the trading environment remained “intensely competitive, particularly in the high street”. During the 79 weeks, the company disposed of 30 restaurants for gross proceeds of £7.2m, while one lease came to an end. Subsequent to the year end eight further sites have been disposed of for £1.7m. It said the disposals were part of a programme to focus more on its core French brands. However, the group confirmed it was in talks with parties regarding the sale of a number of restaurants. Earlier this week, M&C Report revealed that Brasserie Bar Co, the operator of Brasserie Blanc, was in talks to acquire the eight-strong Chez Gerard chain, which is valued at around £12m. A successful sale of the Chez Gerard sites would leave Paramount with 25 “high street” sites on the market, comprising 18 Brasserie Gerards, four Livebaits and three Bertorellis. The company said that it was confident that sufficient proceeds to fund the group’s working capital requirements would be realised. However, it added that a combination of circumstances, including meeting of cash flow forecasts and operational performance improvements, and achieving certain restaurant disposals, “represent a material uncertainty that may cast a significant doubt upon the company’s ability to continue as a going concern and to meet its liabilities as they fall”. As revealed by M&C Report in August, Paramount appointed Deloitte to look at its future options, including a sale of the entire business, which has a mooted price tag of around £25m, or a break-up of its estate. It is thought that a number of operators have approached Deloitte about acquiring small groups or individual sites. The latest restructuring follows a similar move in 2009, which saw Paramount – then led by chief executive Mark Phillips – emerge under the ownership of a consortium of banks comprising Barclays, HSBC, RBS and at the time Sankaty. The process saw the management team retain a 15-20% stake in the business, and saw its debts reduced from £120m to £64m.