THE ISSA brothers' ongoing attempt to take over Caffè Nero has been thwarted for now after the company managed to file its accounts on time.

The Blackburn-born brothers had completed a deal in April this year to buy control of £140 million of Caffè Nero's debts which they hoped to use as leverage to allow them to take control of the entire company.

However the coffee chain, which has branches in Clitheroe and Preston, has now filed its annual accounts on time which pledge to meet all of its banking covenants for the next 12 months and has said that sales are improving.

Speaking to City AM, Caffè Nero founder and group CEO Gerry Ford said: “Sales are picking up and the last quarter has given us a lot of positive momentum.

Covid-19, with its government enforced closures and restrictions, made for a challenging 14 months."

He added: “We are gaining strength each week.

"Prior to the pandemic we were trading strongly and had a fantastic track record, we are starting to see that same trading pattern return.”

Caffè Nero’s annual accounts to the end of May 2020 show a 22 per cent decline in revenue and a pre-tax loss of £6 million.

However, as well as improved sales the company also says that it has now repaid all of its bank loans incurred during the Covid crisis.

EG Group founders Mohsin and Zuber Issa first made a bid to buy control of Caffè Nero in November last year saying that they believed the company would "thrive" under their ownership.

Since then the coffee chain has resisted their efforts, with the brothers financing a legal challenge by some of Caffè Nero's landlords intending to give the company no choice but to put itself up for sale.

The challenge was meant to contest a debt restructuring deal that would have given the cafe chains' 650-plus landlords 30p for every pound they were owed.

Eight of the nine landlords involved in the challenge have since settled, however one has decided to continue.

Caffè Nero had attempted to get the final landlord's case thrown out by the courts, however on Friday May 28 a judge ruled that the challenge will go ahead in July.