The two Bistro du Vin restaurants in London - launched with great fanfare and aggressive expansion plans last year - have been sold by the MWB Group, for £1.2m.
Burger & Lobster, which currently has one outlet in Mayfair, has bought the two restaurants, in Clerkenwell and Soho, in a deal which is expected to be completed on 31 May. The brand is operated by the Russian-owned steak chain, Goodman, which has three branches in the capital.
Despite originally announcing that it intended to open 10 new Bistro du Vin restaurants in five years, MWB has now decided that the concept is not core to its business and will concentrate on maximising occupancies and revenues within its two hotel brands, Malmaison and Hotel du Vin, alongside its office provider operation, Business Exchange.
The two branches of Bistro du Vin in Clerkenwell and Soho have not performed as well as hoped, recording a loss of £330,000 in the 18-month period to June 2011. A company statement from MWB said that the gross asset value relating to Bistro du Vin was £2.7m on 30 June 2011.
Bistro du Vin was launched by the former chief executive of Malmaison and Hotel du Vin, Robert Cook, with the company's master sommelier Ronan Sayburn overseeing a 500-bin wine offering.
Cook's replacement, Gary Davis (pictured), who joined the company in January, hinted to Caterer and Hotelkeeper in March that the Bistro du Vin brand might not continue.
"High-street restaurants are not our core business and I would sooner that we were concentrating our efforts on opening hotels," he said.
● In a trading update released today for the three months to 31 March 2012, MWB said the appointment of Davis, together with that of Paul Roberts as finance director, had brought "a fresh approach to the business", with the board of Malmaison being further strengthened with the arrival of Steve Hebborn as a non-executive director.
Trading for the period is reported to be still challenging, but with some recent "encouraging" signs of improvement, supported by savings and efficiencies being introduced by the new executive team.
Room occupancy and revenues from food and beverage across both brands have remained level with the same period last year, but there has been a slight reduction in revenue per available room for Malmaison.
By Janet Harmer
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