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After losing millions in a 'difficult' period, Abrakebabra's owner says it's back on track

The AIL Group blamed some of its historic losses on ‘onerous rental agreements’.

Image: Flickr/infomatique

THE RETAIL GROUP behind Abrakebabra, the Bagel Factory and the O’Briens sandwich chain is slowly turning around its fortunes.

The AIL Group, which is led by Graeme Beere and David Zebedee, has a network of over 130 fast-food stores spread across Ireland.

After several turbulent years financially, most of its main food chains remain firmly in the red with millions of euro in accumulated losses.

However, recent accounts published for several of the businesses in its food empire show different wings of AIL are building their way back to profitability.

The firm behind Abrakebabra made a profit of €2.3 million during 2016, reducing its accumulated losses to just over €7 million.

Similarly, the Bagel Factory chain has accumulated losses of nearly €6 million, but it made a profit of just over €2.4 million during 2016.

The group’s sandwich bar chain, O’Briens, is going in the opposite direction after it made a loss of just over €958,000, but it is still in the black to the tune of €96,000.

AIL took over the business from founder Brody Sweeney in 2009 after it went into liquidation.

Accounts for the firm’s Yo Sushi franchise also showed that it also had a rough 2016 as its accumulated losses topped the €3 million mark after sinking another €104,000 into the red for the year.

Last year AIL decided to axe its sushi business, which included stores in Dublin city centre and Dundrum Shopping Centre.

A spokesperson for AIL told Fora that the firm’s historic losses were largely as a result of “onerous rental agreements coupled with the general downturn in the restaurant business in the post-Celtic Tiger years”.

obriens Chef Rachel Allen and Graeme Beere Source: RollingNews.ie

The statement added that the group has gone through a recent refinancing process and renegotiated many of its lease agreements.

“From 2016 Abrakebabra, the Bagel Factory and O’Briens have opened new stores in station forecourts, shopping centres and on the high street.

“We continue to trade profitably and have seen (pre-tax) growth in all brands over the last few years. Profits in the coming years will allow us to continue to reduce further our historic debt levels.”

According to a note in the directors’ report for Abrakebabra Limited’s accounts, Beere and Zebedee are confident the firm will “return to profitability in the future” despite recent trading difficulties.

“The directors have a reasonable expectation that the group will have adequate resources to continue in operational existence for the foreseeable future,” it said,

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Rebuilding

Last year it was revealed that Musgrave, the group behind Supervalu and Centra, had taken a charge over some of the fast food group’s assets in return for its financial support.

AIL previously got the support of State-backed lender BlueBay in refinancing loans due to private equity fund Lone Star, which bought the debts from the former Anglo Irish Bank.

In December, Lone Star lodged filings against Abrakebabra founder Beere in the High Court over an alleged €220,000 debt still owing in relation to a personal guarantee.

During 2017, AIL also revealed plans to open 30 new outlets over a three-year period and create 300 new jobs.

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Written by Killian Woods and posted on Fora.ie

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