The Seafood Pub Company, the multi-awarding group, has ceased trading after going into administration.

The Lancashire-based company, which was led by Joycelyn Neve, announced the news in a letter to staff at the weekend.

Neve said she was “truly heartbroken” but added she hoped to start a new company when she can.

The collection of gastropubs, which were backed by Penta Capital, includes the Forest at Fence, the Alma Inn at Laneshawbridge, the Assheton Arms in Downham and the Barley Mow in Barley.

The impact of the coronavirus lockdown is thought to have been a significant factor, with the company unable to secure the funding to continue.

Neve said an application for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan (CIBL), a new round of fundraising, and a management buyout attempt were all unsuccessful.

In a statement, she said: “It is with a very heavy heart that I am writing to tell you that we have not been able to secure the funding needed for the business to survive.

“Without funding and no income since the forced closure, we have no choice other than for the business to go into administration.”

She added: “It goes without saying I am truly heartbroken to have lost the business, but even more so for my team and seafood family. We fought as hard as possible, every step of the way and I am just so sorry that we weren’t able to save the business. I can’t thank the team, guests, suppliers, and everyone who has been part of Seafood Pub Company enough, for their support and friendship the past nine years and especially for the kindness and well wishes at this incredibly difficult time.”

Neve founded the company in 2010, and has won a clutch of awards including at the Morning Advertiser’s Publican, and Restaurant magazine’s R200.

The company was chaired by Brunning & Price co-founder Graham Price, while Hippo Inns co-founder Ian Edward was a non-executive director.

It was owned by former EAT and La Tasca backer Penta Capital, which in 2016 took a majority stake in the business for £18m.

In its most recent accounts, Seafood Pub Company reported a loss after tax of £2.73m for 2018.