BOSTON — Fast-casual restaurant chain Così, Inc. on Oct. 11 said it is “aggressively seeking” qualified bidders who may have an interest in purchasing substantially all of its assets in a sale process under Section 363 of the Bankruptcy Code. The company filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Sept. 28.
Cosi said it expects to have approval for the bidding procedures and sale schedule from the bankruptcy court by Oct. 20, and has set a deadline for all bids by Nov. 14.
In its filing late last month, Cosi said its debtors-in-possession (DIP) lenders have proposed to purchase substantially all of the company’s assets and would serve as the “stalking horse bidder” in the 363 sale process. Qualified bidders must submit a higher or better bid than the offer from the stalking horse bidder.
To gain access to Cosi’s confidential detailed due diligence materials interested parties must sign a confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement and must demonstrate financial ability to be considered qualified bidders.
During the 2015 fiscal year Cosi had revenue of approximately $90 million, but sales decreases led to severe cash flow problems in fiscal 2016, the company said.
“The deteriorating sales were at least partially due to macro-economic issues affecting the restaurant industry as a whole, and the fast-casual sector in particular, resulting in decreasing sales trends for the company,” Cosi said.
Prior to filing for bankruptcy, Cosi announced the closing of 29 underperforming company-operated locations. As of Oct. 1, 2016, the company operated or franchised a total of 76 restaurants, of which 45 are company operated and 31 are franchised locations. The company currently employs approximately 1,200 full- and part-time restaurant and field employees and 17 employees in its support center.The company’s common stock was formerly listed on The Nasdaq Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol COSI, but was delisted as of the opening of business on Oct. 10 for failure to satisfy Nasdaq’s continued listing requirements.