Today’s blog comes from a recent event in the hospitality industry which involved the voluntry administration of Eagle Boys, the nation’s third largest pizza chain.
The pizza chain’s head office called in administrators SV Partners on Thursday, but insists its 120 or so franchisees will continue to trade while a potential sale is negotiated.
Eagle Boys franchise numbers have halved in Australia in recent years.
Documents filed with the corporate regulator show the company either could not pay its debts or thought it may soon be unable to do so.
“For Eagle Boys customers, franchisees, employees and suppliers it’s ‘business as usual’ while the Administrators’ review is underway,” Eagle Boys, founded in Albury NSW in 1987, said in a statement.
Private equity firm NBC Capital acquired an 85 per cent stake in Eagle Boys in 2007, and since then has been the subject of a string of controversies and shrinking market share.
Eagle Boys’ current footprint has more than halved from its peak of 340 Australian stores.
Store owners claim to have been driven to the wall by price wars with dominant chains Domino’s and Pizza Hut and hit by head office cutting back on advertising.
BusinessDay revealed last year that at least 30 Eagle Boys franchisees, many who had become insolvent or bankrupt, were mulling legal action against head office, with a class action on the cards.
The chain was at the time trying to raise up to $20 million in capital to pay down a “significant” amount of debt before an IPO in the next three to five years.
Eagle Boys has 4.6 per cent of the Australian pizza market, trailing behind Domino’s which has 25 per cent and Pizza Hut which has 10 per cent, according to IBIS World.
Retail Food Group, which owns Pizza Capers and Crust and has been floated as a potential Eagle Boys buyer, has 4 per cent of the market.
The 15 per cent of the company not owned by Eagle Boys is understood to be held by six former staff members.