Four Marco Pierre White pubs in administration
Marco Pierre White's Horatio Inns has gone into administration.
The business owns four Norfolk pubs, three of which - the Chequers Inn in Thornham, the Wayford Bridge hotel near Stalham, and the Lifeboat in Thornham - trade under the Wheeler's of St James brand.
A fourth, the Acle Bridge Inn, does not trade under the Wheeler's name but is also in administration.
Restructuring specialist Zolfo Cooper was appointed to look after the four pubs on 19 January, amid claims from one former employee that suppliers had gone unpaid and that staff had also been paid wages late. However Zolfo Cooper has confirmed that wage payments are now up to date.
A statement from the administrator said: "Nick Cropper, Fraser Gray and Anne O'Keefe at Advisory and Restructuring specialists Zolfo Cooper have today been appointed Joint Administrators over Horatio Inns Limited and its four subsidiaries.
"The subsidiaries own the following pubs: Wayford Bridge Hotel, The Acle Bridge Inn, The Chequers Inn and the Lifeboat Inn. All four pubs are based in picturesque locations in Norfolk and operate as traditional country inns with accommodation alongside a restaurant and pub offering. They will continue to trade following the appointment. The venues are very popular and have a healthy number of existing bookings, which the administrators fully intend to honour.
"The administrators were appointed as a result of the businesses experiencing short term cash flow problems arising from the recent challenging economic environment."
All of the sites are expected to be sold on as going concerns.
White acquired the properties when he took over the Maypole Group, in 2011 after it had fallen into administration in 2010.
In addition to the four sites now operated by Horatio Inns, White acquired the Angel hotel in Suffolk, which he sold later last year to Cozy Pubs, and the Pear Tree in Whitley in Wiltshire, where staff were reported to have walked out last summer in protest over the chef's "bossy management style".
Meanwhile, the chef and restaurateur sold his flagship Wheeler's of St James, which lends its name to the three Horatio Inns properties, in March last year.
However other areas of his restaurant empire are faring better. Black and White Franchising, which is rolling out the chef's New York Italian and Steakhouse Bar & Grill concepts across the country, aims to have 20 restaurants open by mid-2015, and 50 within the next four years.
No-one from Horatio Inns was available to comment.
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