A buyer is being sought for London wine bar and restaurant operator Balls Brothers after the company went into administration amid mounting debts.
The business had denied it was in crisis talks with banker Barclays last week, despite media reports of debts of about £7m, largely thanks to its acquisition in 2006 of the Lewis Clarke bar chain.
But now the operator of 19 bars and restaurants across the capital has called in restructuring experts Zolfo Cooper as administrators of Balls Brothers Ltd and Lewis Clarke Ltd.
‘Following a period of cash flow difficulties and testing trading conditions linked to the cuts across the City’s financial institutions, the companies were unable to secure further investment, leading to the appointment of the joint administrators,’ Zolfo Cooper said.
Joint administrator Nick Cropper said the bars and restaurants would continue to trade, with the aim of selling the business as a going concern.
‘The Balls Brothers business has been an established name for over 50 years and is extremely well-known across the London leisure and dining sector,’ said Cropper.
‘The company has a great heritage and enjoys a lasting reputation due to its high standards in service, food and wine, and is sure to generate significant interest.’
Balls Brothers’ well-known bars include Mulligan’s of Mayfair and The Sterling, while its restaurants include Hay’s Galleria and St Mary at Hill.
The company also has a wine merchant division supplying restaurants, as well as corporate and private clients, and employs 332 members of staff.
The administrators emphasised that all existing bookings made at Balls Brothers venues for the Christmas period would be honoured.
Written by Richard Woodard