Sushi & poke bowl chain sold pre-pack administration, 150 staff made redundant

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Abokado co-founder Mark Lilley said: “I fear that many more businesses and livelihoods will be lost over the coming months without further significant intervention”. Chain sold to holding company which Lilley is director of.

Propel Hospitality reports that Abokado, which has 19 Pacific flavour-themed stores across London, has been sold in a pre-pack administration but its entire 150 workforce has been made redundant. Dependent on London’s office community, the chain saw its business collapse as Londoner’s shifted to working from home.

Abokado sold sushi and poke bowl, many of which contained salmon.

Pre-pack administration is an insolvency procedure where a company arranges a deal to sell its assets to a buyer before appointing administrators to facilitate the sale.

“Benjamin Wiles and Geoffrey Bouchier, of Duff & Phelps, were appointed administrators on 13 October and a pre-packaged administration sale was executed shortly thereafter to Montway Holdings, of which Abokado co-founder Mark Lilley is listed as its director,” wrote Propel Hospitality.

Lilley said that the shift in working habits has been “simply devastating”.

“We were forced to close at the end of March along with the rest of our sector due to the global outbreak of covid-19. In July, the board appointed Duff & Phelps to perform an accelerated sale in order to attempt to secure a future for the business and achieve a positive outcome for creditors and employees. Unfortunately, in light of the continued uncertainty, the accumulating liabilities, and the existing leasehold structures, it was impossible to secure sufficient investment to reopen the business.

“The impact of covid-19 on the hospitality and leisure industry has been catastrophic and I feel for each and every business owner and employee within this sector. However, for a business such as Abokado, which is entirely dependent on London’s office community, the overnight shift to working from home and the emptying out of central London has been simply devastating. Our market, overnight, ceased to exist. Lindsay and I could never have imagined when we started this journey in the spring of 2004 that we would end up here. It is shocking our entire 19 stores remain closed,” he said.

“It is a tragedy our entire workforce, many of whom have families and children to support, and some of whom have lived and breathed Abokado for more than a decade, have been made redundant. While the government support measures have been welcome, to my mind, they haven’t gone nearly far enough. With tightening restrictions, I fear that many more businesses and livelihoods will be lost over the coming months without further significant intervention – successful businesses made unviable by circumstances and restrictions entirely outside of their control,” added the founder.

Lilley added that the new investment group will support it “to breathe new life into the business”.

In 2019 a sharp reduction in sales combined with banking fraud led the directors of Abokado to launch a company voluntary arrangement (CVA).