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Byron burger chain races to secure takeover

por Jonathan Hankins (02/07/2020)


Byron is trying to secure a takeover amid concerns the upmarket burger chain could face financial collapse during the coronavirus pandemic.

The restaurant group, which employs 1,200 staff, today filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators as it holds talks with three potential buyers.

The move is intend to protect the London-based firm from creditors during these discussions, with the board said to be confident of getting a deal done.

Byron has 51 restaurants in Britain, including this one in Islington, North London (file picture)

The most likely outcome is a pre-pack administration, which means certain assets would be sold to a new owner, reported .

The chain hopes that a deal can be concluded as soon as possible, because it is hoping for a phased reopening of restaurants from mid-July. 

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In May, KPMG was instructed to help Byron explore the Government's Covid support initiatives and then to look at securing new investment for the business.

Byron, which was launched in 2007 and has 51 UK restaurants, is known to be a favourite among the likes of Prince Harry and politician George Osborne.

It is the latest restaurant chain to face financial difficulty, with Las Iguanas and Café Rouge owner Casual Dining Group having filed a similar notice of intention.

A Byron burger restaurant on Fulham Broadway in South West London

Meanwhile various others from Prezzo to Wasabi and ASK Italian and Zizzi have brought in advisors to look at how they could raise more cash.

Covid hit at a frustrating time for Byron, with the company entering the ninth month of a turnaround plan - and it was forced to halt a refurbishment programme.

The business also placed all hourly employees on minimum-hour payment terms in an attempt to ensure they were protected during the lockdown. 

Byron closed all of its sites from March 18, tour du lịch hạ long two days before it was forced to by the Government and five days before the full lockdown was brought in. 

The chain delivered a gross profit of nearly £32million in the 2019 financial year, having made a loss of more than £42million in the previous year.

Former Chancellor George Osborne tweeted of a picture of him eating a Byron burger in June 2013, on the evening before he launched his spending review

Byron was founded by Tom Byng in 2007 before being purchased by current private equity owners Three Hills Capital Partners in 2017.

But it launched a Company Voluntary Arrangement deal, which saw the closure of ten sites and reduced rents in order to support it after a downturn in trading.

Despite widespread financial restructuring of major restaurant chains over the last couple of years, the overall number of restaurants still rose by 2 per cent last year.

The number of properties classified as restaurants for the purpose of business rates in England and Wales increased by 563 to 27,995 at the end of 2019 and are up a further 183 to 28,178 during the first six months of 2020 despite the lockdown.

Spokesmen for Byron and Three Hills Capital Partners declined to comment to MailOnline today. The identities of the three potential buyers are not yet known.