It's business as usual

The future of one of London's most famous butcher's shop has been secured following the collapse of its owner, CST Wholesale.

The wholesale company, which owned Allen of Mayfair, one of London's best known and oldest butcher, and supplier of meat and poultry to the Queen, has gone into administration with millions of pounds worth of debt.

CST Wholesale also owns a Smithfield game dealer and two meat wholesalers but the butcher side of the business was sold by administrators Menzies to Rare Butchers of Lewisham. The catering butchers, a rival of Allen of Mayfair, has bought the name and the leasehold of the premises.

Justin Preston, a business partner at Rare Butchers, said the company had aquired Allen of Mayfair because it was a little piece of London history, most chefs knew of its existence and many top London hotels and restaurants were located on its doorstep. Preston said: "We want to make it the best butcher's shop in the country - and rather that make any sweeping changes we want to enhance and embrace the traditions of the shop. We want it to be a traditional butcher's shop and maintain the working environment."

As well as supplying the Queen, Allen of Mayfair supplied some of London's best hotels and restaurants and it has been selling grouse, woodcock and top quality beef for more than 175 years. It was reported in a national newspaper that famous hotel kitchens including Gordon Ramsay's Claridges restaurant and the Dorchester were left short of supply following the collapse of CST but the Queen did not go without, with supplies coming from another company.

CST Wholesale has annual sales of £14m, and fell into administration just six months after private equity specialist, Philip Reid bought the company, backed by Icelandic bank Landsbanki. It is understood that the future of the wholesale business which employs 50 people at New Covent Garden remains uncertain - all 50 employees have been made redundant and at least three of its Smithfield suppliers are believed to be owed in excess of £100,000.

The collapse of CST comes two months after high street butchers chain Dewhurst, once boasting 1,400 outlets, went into administration.

John Norris, of Menzies Corporate Restructing, administrators of CST Wholesale, said the firm was looking at a number of parties who were interested in buying the wholesale side of the business, which had, for the time being ceased to trade. He added although there had been an attempt to consolidate CST Wholesale as one business last year, it had not worked as antcipated. Menzies Corporate Restructing was appointed as administrators last month.

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