Speculation over the Gaucho business has intensified after it was revealed the company is now considering all options, including a sale of its entire business, just two weeks after hiring advisors to examine whether to close or sell its underperforming 22-strong CAU brand.
Advisors KPMG has now had its mandate broadened to solicit proposals from potential investors for the entire company, or parts of the business, which private equity group Equistone acquired at the start of 2016 for £100m.
Those close to the 16-strong Gaucho business continue to state that the brand is performing “in line” with the broader restaurants sector, and is not under threat of closure. However it is thought that company-wide EBITDA has fallen further below the £9.4m figure posted for the year to the end of 2016, and that a significant number of CAU sites were secured under cross guarantees with its more established sister brand.
The speed at which advisors have move from looking at options for the entire business rather than just CAU has also led to speculation that the company’s banking group, led by Lloyds is now controlling the process.
Suitors are circling the business, including the company ex-managing director Martin Williams, founder of M Restaurants, who is thought to be putting together a takeover package.
A source close to the business said: “Potential investors will be asked to submit proposals for the business – these proposals could and are likely to take many forms, including but not limited to bids for all or part of the business. They are doing this to put the business on a viable long term footing – currently it is not. Gaucho is profitable across all sites, with good long term growth prospects and the latest two Gaucho openings outside London performing well, with scope for further rollout.”
In a statement, a Gaucho spokesman said: “Having completed a strategic review and engaged with key stakeholders, the directors have instructed advisers to commence an options process. The process aims to secure a viable long-term structure for the business. This may or may not lead to a sale.”
The initial review came a CAU was reportedly seeing double-digit declines in like-for-like revenues.