The new owners of Mackintosh’s Canteen in Norwich’s Chapelfield will have no liability for the debts of the former limited company which has been wound up by the high court.

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The assets of Mackintosh’s Canteen Ltd, which was established by restaurateur Henry Watt, were sold along with his other businesses - The Wildebeest Arms, The Mad Moose and The Hunny Bell - to a brand new company in April, Animal Inns.

Following the sale of the assets of the Chapelfield restaurant, a winding-up order for the original company, Mackintosh’s Canteen Ltd, was filed by London-based supplier Enotria Winecellars Limited as there were insufficient assets to fulfil the obligations to secured creditors of the company.

Mr Watt admits that he is facing bankruptcy proceedings.

He said yesterday that following greatly increased competition and increasingly difficult trading conditions in the catering sector, Mackintosh’s Canteen was sold to Animal inns investors Jez King and David Cappendell so the operation could continue to trade and maintain the jobs of the staff there.

Mr Watt set up his first restaurant 20 years ago with Hector’s House in Bedford Street, Norwich, which, with The Aquarium, in Tombland was sold in 2000.

He went on to establish The Wildebeest at Stoke Holy Cross, near Norwich, and the other restaurants. The Mad Moose opened in the city’s Golden Triangle in 1995. He also took over The Hunny Bell in Hunworth, north Norfolk.

Mr King had been working with Mr Watt over the past two years as a consultant.

Mr King yesterday reiterated that the company had no liability for Mr Watt’s debts.

He said: “Animal Inns is a new company. We bought the four trading assets from Henry Watt. We bought the trading assets from him in April this year. We took on no liabilities at all. We paid him a sum of money for the assets and left him with his debt.”

That sum paid has never been disclosed. Mr King said he and his business partner were going to spend a year getting the basics right at the four restaurants. The four restaurants are all continuing to trade. He said: “Henry had developed some good assets but he struggled to run them in a difficult market and therefore we said at the time we wanted to spend a year going back to basics. When we have done that we might go and acquire some other stuff, but we will see how we get on.”

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