Updated: 2nd March 2021
Julian Pitts and Bob Maxwell of Begbies Traynor in Leeds were appointed joint administrators of City District Limited, which trades as the Fazenda Rodizio Bar & Grill alongside sister brand Picanha by Fazenda, on 1 March 2021. A substantial part of the business and assets of City District Limited was acquired immediately following the administration appointment by Southern Wind Group Limited, saving 243 jobs.
Founded in 2010, the Huddersfield-based company operated six South American gaucho-style grilling and Rodizio dining restaurants under the Fazenda and Picanha brands which are famous for the concept of continuous tableside service of high-quality grilled meats with the use of a double-sided card to control the flow of meats to the customer.
Unfortunately, the business has suffered from the impact of prolonged lockdowns and restrictions caused by COVID-19. This resulted in a significant build-up of landlord and HMRC arrears which could no longer be serviced without additional funding.
After a period of marketing undertaken by Begbies Traynor Group, a pre-packaged sale was agreed to Southern Wind Group Limited. The new company, headed up by City District Limited’s former chief executive Terence Langley and managing director Tomás Maunier, will continue to trade as ‘Fazenda’ and will retain the Leeds, Manchester, Edinburgh and Liverpool Fazenda sites, saving 243 jobs. However, Fazenda Birmingham and Picanha Chester are not included in the deal and 69 staff will be made redundant.
Joint administrator Julian Pitts said: “After more than 10 years of healthy trading, the Fazenda restaurant chain became yet another casualty of the impact of the pandemic on the hospitality sector. With the UK undergoing multiple lockdowns, together with social distancing measures and increased working from home, the restaurant trade has faced one of its toughest periods ever.
“It is good news for employees, customers and suppliers that most of the popular Fazenda eateries will re-open for business once the current restrictions are lifted. We wish them well for the future.”
Speaking of the change of hands, chief executive of Southern Wind Group Limited, Terence Langley, said, “The pandemic has meant that we have had to regroup and review to navigate the current climate as best we can and put the business in good stead in order to come back strong. We have high hopes that Fazenda will find the right place in Birmingham to operate in the near future, and we can continue on the growth path planned pre-COVID."
Managing director Tomás Maunier said, "Unfortunately rent negotiations and significantly reduced cash flow has led to this difficult decision to close two of the restaurants. The hardest part is that we were unable to retain the whole team, though we are extremely proud to have secured over 200 jobs in the process.
“Despite the closures, we believe that the long-term future is looking bright for both the industry and the brand, and we are looking forward to resuming operations across our other sites in May."
Addleshaw Goddard’s restructuring team in Leeds and Edinburgh advised the joint administrators throughout the sale process. Walker Morris in Leeds acted as advisers to Southern Wind Group.
The acquisition also includes the recently launched e-commerce arm of the business ‘Fazenda at Home’, joining many others in the ‘make-away’ market, where customers can continue to purchase quality meats and buy prepare-at-home meal kits.
Southern Wind Group Limited will honour any gift vouchers previously issued by the Fazenda and Picanha restaurants, and further information will soon be available on the Fazenda website and via its social media pages.
Following graduation from the University of Hull, Julian qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Coopers & Lybrand in Leeds. After a short time with Baker Tilly, in 1989, together with David Wilson, he established Wilson Pitts, a specialist independent practice dealing with all aspects of insolvency and corporate recovery work. In 2006, the Wilson Pitts practice was acquired by Begbies Traynor where Julian is now the Joint Regional Managing Partner for the North-East region.