THE restaurant group which owns the Café Rouge and Bella Italia brands is looking to sell its Strada chain in bid to decrease its debt burden by £256 million.

Tragus Group, which operates more than 290 sites across the country including one of each restaurant brand in Low Petergate, York, as well as a second Café Rouge in Coney Street, is aiming to reduce its debt burden from £354 million to £91 million.

The firm has appointed insolvency specialist Zolfo Cooper to initiate company voluntary arrangements (CVA) to revise lease terms.

An "equity sponsor" is being sought for the group's Strada business, which operates from 56 sites across the UK.

Steve Richards, chief executive of Tragus Group, said: "The plan we have announced is crucial for reducing the group's unsustainable level of debt, providing the right operational structure for the business and securing a strong and sustainable future for Tragus and all of our brands.

"We hope that creditors will accept our proposals which will provide us with the necessary financial strength to be able to access new market opportunities and resume growth and development in our core estate to the benefit of all of our stakeholders."