The owner of the gourmet burger chain Byron is to consider flipping it to new owners amid a downturn in Britain’s casual dining sector.
Sky News has learnt that a meeting of Byron’s board on Wednesday concluded with a decision to conduct a strategic review of the business, which is owned by investment firm Hutton Collins.
Sources close to Byron said that a sale was not certain to take place, but that offloading either the whole company or a substantial minority were the likeliest outcomes of the review being handled by KPMG, the professional services firm.
Byron, which has been owned by Hutton Collins for four years and employs 1800 people, closed four under-performing stores earlier this year.
Insiders pointed out that the company had not breached its banking covenants, contrary to market rumours, and was not considering a company voluntary arrangement, a process which enables property-owners to close loss-making outlets more cheaply.
Byron trades from about 70 sites across the UK, having opened its first restaurant in 2007.
The company changed hands for £100m in 2013, when it operated from just over 30 sites.
Its most high-profile customer was George Osborne, who as the Chancellor attracted ridicule when he posted a picture of himself on social media eating a Byron burger during preparations for a Government spending review in 2013.
The chain has seen a downturn in trading performance in recent months amid broader pressure on the restaurant sector amid soaring commodity and regulatory costs.
During the summer, Handmade Burger Co collapsed into administration, while companies including The Restaurant Group – which owns Garfunkel’s and Frankie & Benny’s – have been forced to change their leadership teams in an effort to revive their fortunes.
Byron named Simon Cope, a former Wagamama executive, as its new chief executive last month, working alongside chairman Dalton Philips, the former boss of Wm Morrison.
A source close to Byron insisted that it remained focused on growth, with a new restaurant expected to open in Bath next year.
Byron declined to comment.
Source: Sky News