By Christina Golding
PIERRE Victoire operators are meeting this week to find out if they have a future with the group. Receivers stepped in last week at the request of directors, after a period of rapid expansion resulting in heavy losses.
Franchisees and employees of the group, which has 83 franchised and 25 owned operations, are hoping for a buyout by a large group.
But industry sources were doubtful about interest from groups such as Whitbread or Bass, both of which declined to comment.
Last year, the group shelved plans for a stock market flotation and no takers were found when the business was put up for sale in February.
The company's target to expand the chain from 108 to 300 restaurants appeared to be "plucked from the air" rather than from an economic basis, said a spokesman for receiver Grant Thornton.
Founder Pierre Levicky sought to reassure both franchisees and employees. "They shouldn't be worried," he said. "It is a solid brand and network. The company needs to go forwards with a new owner with the skills to carry on growing it."