Belgian bakery chain Le Pain Quotidien is working on a 'Pain Quotidien bis': it is in the midst of insolvency proceedings and is handing over its American and British branches via master franchising.
Protection against creditors
Le Pain Quotidien will submit a reorganisation plan to a Brussels court next week, as the chain had already been granted protection against creditors by means of an insolvency procedure. Now main shareholder Cobepa has plans to continue under a new form, known as 'Pain Quotidien bis', according to Belgian newspapers De Tijd and L'Echo.
The new construction would take over all the stores in Belgium and France, all brand rights, the production workshop and the contracts with the franchisees. Current majority shareholder Cobepa has also acquired the chain's eighty million euros in bank debts.
At first, nothing much should change: neither employment in Belgium nor most international franchisees will be impacted by the procedure, according to the business newspapers. Only in the American and British markets will major changes take place.
The earlier news that Le Pain Quotidien would divest its British operations is now confirmed. The American restaurants face a similar fate: the chain is setting up a system of master franchising in both countries, so that the formula can remain active there - but financially completely separate from the parent group. In the US, the chain is said to be in "advanced talks" with a takeover candidate.
In all likelihood, this will entail a significant downsizing: before the Covid-19 crisis hit, the bakery group had 90 American and 26 British restaurants, now there would be around fifty and fifteen respectively. Owner Cobepa now thinks that "in this way we will resolve the uncertainty surrounding the future of Le Pain Quotidien and that the group will be able to restart with a clean slate."