Sugar sweetens revolt against Caffe Nero rescue deal

Lord Sugar, the Amstrad founder and star of The Apprentice, is fuelling a landlord-led revolt against a rescue deal for Caffe Nero, the struggling chain of coffee shops.

Sky News has learnt that Amsprop Investments, the peer’s private commercial property group, is among seven parties which have lodged a legal challenge aimed at blocking Caffe Nero’s company voluntary arrangement (CVA).

Amsprop’s involvement in the challenge, which is understood to have been filed on Christmas Eve, will intensify scrutiny of a restructuring that will affect the fate of thousands of high street workers.

Lord Sugar
Image:A spokesman for Lord Sugar confirmed the involvement of Amsprop

Under the plans tabled by Gerry Ford, Caffe Nero’s controlling shareholder, landlords would forfeit most of their outstanding rent payments – a move which has angered commercial property owners who have seen their businesses hammered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Landlords were, however, promised full payment of rent arrears as part of a takeover offer proposed just before December’s CVA vote by EG Group, the petrol station empire run by Lancashire-based brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa.

The Issas, who are in the process of buying Asda alongside their private equity backers, TDR Capital, are understood to be underwriting the cost of the legal challenge to the CVA.

One source said that the landlords who were contesting the restructuring were largely ‘mom and pop’ property owners who would not have the resources to fund a significant legal fight.