Lord Sugar fuels landlord-led challenge against Caffè Nero CVA

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Lord Sugar fuels landlord-led challenge against Caffè Nero CVA

Related tags Caffè Nero CVA Landlord

Lord Sugar is fuelling a landlord-led revolt against a rescue deal for Caffè Nero.

Sky News reports​ that the Amstrad founder's private commercial property group, Amsprop Investments, has lodged a legal challenge against Caffè Nero’s Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA). 

Amsprop is one of seven parties objecting to the restructuring as part of a landlord-led revolt against the deal, which was approved by more than 90% of creditors in a vote last month​.

Under the plans tabled by Caffè Nero’s controlling shareholder and founder Gerry Ford, landlords would forfeit most of their outstanding rent payments.

However as part of a separate takeover proposal by EG Group, which was rejected​ by the coffee chain, landlords were promised full payment of rent arrears.

EG founders Mohsin and Zuber Issa are understood to be underwriting the cost of the legal challenge to the CVA.

The involvement of Lord Sugar’s group was confirmed by a spokesman for the tycoon.

Caffe Nero’s CVA was approved by more than 90% of creditors, and will be implemented unless the challenge is successful.

As part of the CVA, Ford has pledged £5m to a ‘survival fund’ aimed at withstanding any renewed escalation of the Coronavirus crisis, as it braces itself for the legal challenge from landlords.

A Caffe Nero spokesman said: “We are aware a challenge has been filed by a small number of landlords at what appears to be the instigation of a third party.

“We still firmly believe the terms of the CVA, which passed with over 90% support, are in the best interests of all our creditors and we will openly engage with any landlord who wishes to discuss it further.

“We intend to defend the challenge vigorously.

“In the meantime, we remain focussed on managing the business through the current Covid-19 enforced trading restrictions, and re-growing our sales in the months and years ahead.”

It is not clear how many of Nero’s 650 cafes are at risk of closure following the CVA, though it is understood the focus of the plan will be to switch to a turnover rent model.

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