The famous Curry Chain Bombay Bicycle Club/Tiffinbites collapsed into administration today.
It was saved by V8 Group last year, with Bollywood and Big Brother Star Shilpa Shetty putting in £6million, for one third stake. But Losing £2.6 million a year on £10 million of sales its financiers forced closure.
Shipla tried to introduce a range of ready meals, as if it were a supermarket, including, and yes this is true, Jane Goody memorial poppadoms.
The groups main asset was it brand and good locations. Its curries were a cut above most takeaways and are apparently Gorden Ramseys weekly favorite. I always found them too expensive and underspiced for regular consumption. They gathered too a reputation for slow service for not expanding fast enough to meet demand at peak times.
As discretionary spending collapsed in the recession it embarked on selling its prime premises. A number of which have already been snapped up, include the Tiffinbites restaurants in Canary Wharf and the City and the Kings Road branch of Bombay Bicycle Club, Jubilee Place and Chelsea. Other sites in Greenwich (my local), St Paul’s and Hampstead are under offer.
As the sites are excellent ones there are no problems with finding takers for high end restaurants, but the margin in this business is takeaways. Rather than retrenching they should have exploitied their good locations and cut prices on takeaways. They also should have found ways of meeting demand at Friday/Saterday/Sunday peak times – perhaps by utilising spare kitchens in places like schools, by going for volume they could have cut their costs.