The insolvency practitioner dealing with the administration of Indian street food brand The Cat's Pyjamas has refuted claims that the business has been sold.
Owner Alison White, who set up the chain in 2015, told the Yorkshire Evening Post yesterday that she had found an investor to safeguard the future of the restaurants after bailiffs changed the locks on the sites and the company entered administration.
But Leeds-based Lewis Business Recovery and Insolvency have contradicted her claims and stated that no buyer has been found and that rescuers are still being sought to prevent the business being wound up completely.
Gareth Lewis from Lewis Business Recovery said:-
"The company was placed into administration on Monday 25 March 2019 following a period of unsustainable cashflow difficulties. Since being appointed, I have been and am continuing to market the business and assets for sale in accordance with my duties to creditors. Despite suggestions that the business had been rescued already, I can confirm that this is not the case and I would therefore encourage any interested parties to make contact as soon as possible.
"If any party wishes to express an interest in the business/assets, I would request that they contact my colleague Daniel Overend on 0113 2459444 or at email@example.com, or alternatively Richard Temple at Eddisons on 0113 2091052 or firstname.lastname@example.org."
The Cat's Pyjamas previously went into administration in October 2018, following a period of expansion. On that occasion, it was immediately purchased in a 'pre-pack' deal by a new company headed up by Alison's family members. They subsequently abandoned plans to open in Wakefield and Chester, and closed a site in Sheffield that had only been trading for six months.
The Indian street food chain now has a restaurant on Eastgate, a takeaway on New Briggate and further sites in Headingley, Harrogate and York.
Alison said in her original statement that the restaurants are currently closed, but she expects to re-open most sites within a month - although the Harrogate branch has shut permanently.
Alison claimed that she had transferred assets to a new investor named Aftab Ali, who will run the business on a franchise basis and continue its expansion on a global scale. She claimed to have spent the past six months searching for a new owner to head up the brand before settling on Mr Ali.
Yet according to Lewis Business Recovery, no interested party has had an offer to purchase the assets accepted and it remains up for sale.
She also stated that the Harrogate site would not re-open due to the high rents charged for the premises, which did not 'match consumer demand'.
The chain's run of bad luck has also included the mugging of a staff member carrying cash takings in Headingley and a kitchen fire at the Harrogate site.
In October 2018, a month after Sheffield opened, the business went into administration and was saved by an injection of cash from Alison's relatives She explained that a reliance on short-term, high-interest loans had 'crippled' the chain. Problems with the power supply at premises earmarked for an opening in Wakefield meant the planned branch could not open fast enough to support the overall cashflow of the business.