The “majority” of London-based food-to-go chain Vital Ingredient has been sold to new owners via a “pre-pack” sale after running into financial difficulties.
Rob Harding and Dan Butters of business advisory firm Deloitte were appointed administrators to Vital Ingredient and immediately struck a pre-pack deal with FCFM, a privately-owned investment firm.
The made-to-order salad and soup chain operates from 20 sites in London, based in the City and around Soho and has approximately 250 employees.
The sale includes 13 of the company’s 20 sites, with the remaining seven closing with immediate effect. This has resulted in 74 redundancies being announced today.
The seven stores closing today are at Baker Street, Berwick Street, Garlick Hill, High Holborn, Houndsditch, Margaret Street and Middlesex Street.
Rob Harding, joint administrator and partner in Deloitte’s Restructuring Services practice, said: “Whilst this well-known brand has expanded over recent years, driven by the trend for healthier eating, it has unfortunately experienced the same trading challenges as every operator in the sector, namely rising property and labour costs combined with food inflation.”
Mr Harding added: “The sale will enable a restructured business to be taken forward, retaining the majority of the Company’s workforce, and we wish FCFM and the management team every success in doing so.”
Vital Ingredient was set up in 2001 by Alex Heynes, who first came across the idea of a freshly tossed salad bar whilst in New York.
On the company’s website, he explains: “Whilst visiting NYC I spotted a restaurant with a display of hundreds of shiny lettuce-filled plastic bowls, long glass screened counters with an array of ingredients, lines of dressing bottles and hundreds of big metal mixing bowls and tongs hung on the back wall. Each one was made to order to the customer’s exact specification. There it was.”
He subsequently began his Vital Ingredient business plan on the way home.
“Today, my desire to provide such as a service is stronger than ever,” he states. “I have always believed in what we have been striving to achieve but now the consumer too believes in and wants what we are offering. We will, therefore, push our boundaries to make Vital Ingredient the place to eat proper, fresh ingredients and to eat just the way you want to at any time of the day.”