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Coffee Republic hit by the daily grind

COFFEE Republic yesterday suspended its shares &ldquo;pending clarification&rdquo; of its financial situation, with administrators waiting in the wings.<br /><br />Last week, the group placed one of its subsidiaries into administration and called in restructuring advisers from law firm Osborne Clarke.<br /><br />The company, which was founded by Bobby Hashemi, suffered a &pound;527,000 loss in the six months to 28 September but said that it was successfully free of bank debt. <br /><br />It has about 200 stores worldwide including franchises and independent outlets.<br /><br />Shares in Coffee Republic, which have lost two thirds of their value over the last twelve months, closed last Friday up two per cent at 22p, valuing the business at &pound;2.8m. <br /><br />Steve Bartlett, a former rebel shareholder who became chief executive last year, said that the chain hoped to rid itself of poorly performing stores in a restructuring programme.<br /><br />Analysts say that the fact that Coffee Republic is not as strong a business as rivals like Starbuck has been exacerbated by the downturn.<br /><br /><strong>BOBBY HASHEMI <br />FOUNDER OF COFFEE REPUBLIC</strong><br />Bobby Hashemi may need to re-read his own business totem: &ldquo;Anyone Can Do It: Building Coffee Republic from our Kitchen Table&rdquo;, the book he co-authored with his sister Sahar.<br /><br />The siblings formed the Coffee Republic chain in 1995 after the pair said they couldn&rsquo;t find a British coffee as strong as that in New York.<br /><br />Hashemi, who once dated former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell, previously worked in mergers and acquisitions for Lehman Brothers. <br /><br />Hashemi was ousted from the group in October 2007 by chairman Peter Breach and chief executive Steven Bartlett after the brand&rsquo;s rapid expansion.<br />