Fat Cat cafe bars in administration after cash problems

The Fat Cat website announces the closure of its Wrexham cafe bar
Image caption The Fat Cat website announces the closure of its Wrexham cafe bar

A chain of cafe bars founded in north Wales 21 years ago has been placed into administration.

The Fat Cat Group, which began in Bangor, Gwynedd, and is now based in Derby, with 200 employees, said difficult trading during January's snow led to cashflow problems.

Administrators closed the Llandudno, Chester and Hanley sites immediately.

Cafe bars remain in Bangor, Bow in east London, Derby, Leicester, plus a gastro-pub in Frodsham in Cheshire.

The group also previously ran bars in Cardiff, which it sold earlier this year, and in Wrexham, which closed in February.

The chain began with a bar in High Street, Bangor, after it was set up by two graduates. Matthew Saunders became the company's managing director, and Simon Patterson the finance director.

Bangor was chosen as the location because Mr Saunders' mother lived in nearby Penmaenmawr.

Both men continued to run the company until the administrators were called in on Tuesday.

'Weak market'

Mr Saunders said: "We had a bad period during the snow in January, and that's knocked our cashflow at a time when we were trading in a weak market.

"We flagged up the potential problems with our bank, but they declined to help."

They said they called in advisers and spent the next 10 weeks seeking a solution, but ran out of cash.

"The administrators have shut the loss-making branches, including Llandudno, and are hoping to sell the business as a going concern. It's horrific - the worst day of my life."

Mr Saunders said the company had built up a "good little business".

"It's been rewarding to see how staff have developed. We had such a loyal workforce, some of whom have been with us for around 17 years," he added.

Business advisory firm Cooper Parry says the Fat Cat Group currently employs around 200 staff.

Tyrone Courtman, the head of restructuring at Cooper Parry, said: "The companies have been adversely affected by poor trading at a few of their outlets.

He said "all options" were being considered and there had been "significant interest" in the bars which are trading successfully to continue doing so as going concerns.

"I would urge anyone who has any interest in the businesses as a whole or in part to contact me as soon as possible", he said.

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