Brazil court OKs bankruptcy protection for Starbucks, TGI Fridays operator

SAO PAULO (Reuters) -A Sao Paulo judge on Tuesday approved bankruptcy protection for SouthRock Capital, which runs all Starbucks coffee shops and TGI Fridays restaurants in Brazil, according to a court filing.

SouthRock had filed for protection from creditors in late October.

SouthRock said in a statement that with the approval, it will continue to restructure operations with the aim of protecting employees and customers, while it intends to keep operating stores as normal.

The bankruptcy protection process includes its Starbucks and TGI Fridays stores, as well as some restaurants located in airports, SouthRock later said.

Stores from sandwich-maker Subway and Italian food chain Eataly, brands also exclusively operated by SouthRock in Brazil, are not part of the bankruptcy protection, SouthRock added.

The firm operates about 140 Starbucks stores in Brazil and nine TGI Fridays, according to a list of restaurants on its website.

In a statement, Starbucks said SouthRock directly manages and operates store development, retail operations, supply chain and staffing across Brazil.

“As a brand with a presence around the world, we have active and ongoing conversations with our licensed operators as a regular course of business,” Starbucks said, adding it does not disclose the content of its discussions.

TGI Fridays did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Andre Romani, Patricia Vilas Boas and Paula Arend Laier; Editing by David Gregorio)