White Rabbit acquires full control of Island Poké

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

White Rabbit acquires full control of Island Poké following pre-pack administration sale

Related tags Island Poke Multi-site QSR White Rabbit Fund Administration sale

Hospitality incubator White Rabbit Fund has acquired full control of Island Poké by way of a pre-pack administration.

White Rabbit, which has backed the grab-and-go brand since 2016, says the sale will ‘safeguard 104 hospitality jobs and supplier operations’.

“Island Poke possesses a robust underlying business, with its core sites generating profits,” says Chris Miller, White Rabbit Fund founder and CEO.

“However, the company has been hindered by substantial Covid-19-related debts, inflation, and exceptionally inclement weather at the beginning of 2024.

“The acquisition will empower us to fortify the business.”

It was reported last month​ that Island Poké was to undergo a restructuring via a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) having called on insolvency and recovery firm Begbies Traynor.

However, according to a statement provided by Begbies Traynor, it ‘became apparent to the directors from daily trading that the forecasts on which the CVA was built were not likely to be deliverable, thereby undermining the viability of the proposal which was scheduled to continue for five years’.

“In the circumstances, and in parallel with the CVA procedure, the directors engaged BTG Advisory to run an accelerated marketing campaign with a view to identifying a buyer for the business,” the statement continues.

“Throughout this period, a constant dialogue was maintained with the secured creditor, NatWest, who approved both the appointment and sale by way of a pre-pack administration.”

Jeremy Karr and Simon John Killick, both of Begbies Traynor, were appointed as joint administrators by the directors of Island Poke Ltd yesterday (26 June) and the sale to IP Topco Ltd, a subsidiary of WRP Holdco Ltd, was confirmed this morning (27 June).

The administrators were supported by their legal team at Kingsley Napley, headed by Dan Sejas, head of restructuring and insolvency.

The sale includes nine UK sites owned by the group, a further seven UK franchise sites, and 10 French franchise sites.

Island Poké was founded by James Gould-Porter, a former Bonhams auctioneer, back in 2015.

Initially operating as a street food stall, the brand secured the backing of White Rabbit Fund in 2016 and subsequently went on to open its first bricks and mortar site on Kingly Street in Soho later that year.

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