Martin Williams, the UK restaurateur and former managing director of Gaucho, has revealed his attempts to buy the struggling chain were rebuffed after it emerged this week that the business will enter administration.
Speculation has been mounting about the future of the steak chain for some weeks following the financial turmoil that has engulfed the UK restaurant market.
The firm’s advisors have been unsuccessful in finding a buyer for 39 restaurants that operate under the Gaucho and Cau brands, leaving the company to announce yesterday that it intends to appoint an administrator.
Mr Williams, who ran the business for nine years until 2014 and was instrumental in expanding its presence, said it “saddened” him that Gaucho and Cau are in the position they are and confirmed his current venture, M Restaurants, had tried to acquire the brand when talk of administration first arose.
“We tried to help, but our bid wasn’t taken through to the last stages,” said Mr Williams. “We have since targeted some key sites in Central London which we feel would benefit from our multi-faceted, award-winning M venues.”
Around 1,500 jobs are estimated to be at risk as a result of Gaucho’s impending administration, according to reports.
The company said in a statement yesterday that it had explored all other avenues but that administration was now the only option.
“Despite an extensive options process which attracted proposals from a number of parties, it is with regret that due to the complexities of the group’s legal structure, ongoing underperformance at CAU and the level of indebtedness, the directors have been unable to find an agreed, solvent solution. Consequently, the directors have today filed in court a notice of intention to appoint an administrator for the business. Until such time as the administrator has been appointed and agreed plans with management, it is business as usual.”
At the start of this year, Gaucho hired former Mapin CEO Oliver Meakin as its boss. At the time he said he believed there were “significant opportunities” for the business and in May it opened its first Gaucho restaurant in seven years.