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Restaurants sold in latest twist to saga of Maison Novelli

Maison Novelli Limited, the company that owned the Maison Novelli and EC1 restaurants in London, went into voluntary liquidation on 30 June, it was confirmed this week.

However liquidator Morison Stoneham, of Chelmsford, Essex, said the two restaurants had already been sold to a company called JJ Restaurants on 19 May.

Both restaurants remain open and chef-director Jean-Christophe Novelli and fellow director Chris Wheeler are still there. Financial problems have meant Novelli has already lost five of his seven restaurants (Caterer, 20 January, page 6 and 30 March, page 56).

Both Stoneham and Novelli refused to divulge any further details of the transactions.

However, the company’s statement of affairs prepared by Wheeler and filed with Companies House on 10 July, indicated that the company went into liquidation with estimated assets worth just £13,000.

This falls very short of the company’s debts, which totalled £205,487.58, according to the company statement. The statement said Maison Novelli owed money to 63 creditors.

Preferential creditors included the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise, owed £24,743.92 and £14,000 respectively. Trade and expense creditors were owed around £101,143 but the biggest claim came from Novelli himself, for £53,000. Wheeler was claiming £12,500.

According to Companies House, JJ Restaurants was formed in February. However, it has no further details about the company.

In January, Caterer reported that Novelli had used loans from suppliers to pay a staff wages bill of £100,000 and had linked up with a new business partner, ex-stockbroker Louis Mayo. That partnership has now ended.

by Angela Frewin

Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 20-26 July 2000

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