Criniti’s restaurants have been saved from ruin in an 11th hour deal that will see South-Australia based Brunelli Group take ownership of slimmed down version of the business.
Just days after reports emerged that Criniti’s six remaining restaurants were headed for permanent closure with the COVID-19 pandemic scuppering hopes the collapsed business could be sold, Worrells insolvency announced the last-minute buyer had emerged on Sunday.
Criniti’s collapsed into voluntary administration last November, owing millions to creditors like the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), and has been looking for a saviour ever since.
In a statement posted to the company’s Instagram on Monday, Criniti’s said its stores will remain closed for the time being amid coronavirus trading restrictions, but would re-open eventually.
“It has been a difficult period for Criniti’s, but we are so pleased to announce that we are looking positively into the future to rebuild your favorite Italian, focusing on a more fine-dining experience,” the company said.
“We are confident that the Criniti’s brand will reach new heights under this new management and are excited to be back with a bang, as soon as it is safe to do so.”
The sale came as a surprise after news.com.au on Saturday reported a last ditch attempt to sell the business had fallen through due to the coronavirus crisis, which has reportedly cost the company $6.1 million.
But Worrells’ Graeme Beattie managed to find another suitor at the last minute, saying faith in the company had been rewarded.
“Our faith has been rewarded. This is a remarkable tale of retail survival and a testament to the strength of the Criniti’s brand name,” Beattie said in a statement on Sunday.
“The leaner operation traded well through the Christmas and holiday period and put up a good fight after the March ban on in-house dining, only to succumb to Corona-economics in early April.”
Beattie confirmed all memorabilia, trademarks, recipes and menus are included in the sale, bolstering confidence the re-opened venues will “faithfully reproduce” the original experience.
Criniti’s will now fall under the ownership of RP Capital, the private firm behind Brunelli Group.
“Criniti’s has been catering to its patrons in a few Australian states since long [sic] and is one of the most popular Italian restaurants here,” RP Capital said in a statement.
“It was an opportunity to expand it’s [Brunelli’s] base outside South Australia.”
View this post on Instagram
WE’LL BE BACK ❤️ To our valued customers, It has been a difficult period for Criniti’s, but we are so pleased to announce that we are looking positively into the future to rebuild your favourite Italian, focusing on a more fine-dining experience. Criniti Group has been taken over by South Australian restaurant giant, Brunelli Group (home of wood oven pizza) who has successfully been operating for the past decade. Due to the current COVID-19 situation, we will not be operating any of our restaurants keeping in mind the safety of our customers, staff and our community; however we will keep you all updated when this changes. We are confident that the Criniti’s brand will reach new heights under this new management and are excited to be back with a bang, as soon as it is safe to do so. Criniti’s will be back! See you all soon! Watch this space. XO Criniti’s
The sale will double the restaurant footprint of Brunelli Group, which already has six locations in South Australia, extending the business into Victoria and New South Wales.
The slimmed down version of Criniti’s will include six restaurants: Southbank and Carlton in Victoria, and Castle Hill, Parramatta, Darling Harbour and Kotara in NSW.
Six other venues, including those in Queensland and Western Australia, have already been closed and will not re-open.