HUNDREDS of jobs are under threat at Byron after the burger chain announced plans to close nearly a third of its restaurants in the UK.
Shutting down 20 of 67 restaurants is part of a proposed restructuring plan as the company struggles with its finances.
The burger chain founded by Tom Byng employs 1,800 people and the closure could put them at risk.
Byron Burgers is looking to agree a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) which will allow the retailer to pay off its debts over a fixed amount of time.
A CVA allows a business to close loss-making stores and was recently used by struggling toy retailer Toys R Us.
Accountancy giant KPMG is handling the process and said Byron’s directors were using the move to secure the company’s future.
But the plans need to win the backing of landlords and creditors before pushing forward with the process.
Byron’s financial backers, Three Hills Capital Partners, have also announced they will strike a deal to become the biggest shareholder in the restaurant chain as part of the plans.
Will Wright, restructuring partner at KPMG, said: “Over the last 10 years, Byron has grown to become a stand-out name within the UK’s casual dining sector.
“However, in recent times, certain parts of its portfolio have not met expectations, and with gathering economic headwinds starting to impact the sector more profoundly, the directors embarked upon a strategic review of the business as a means of safeguarding its long-term future.”
KPMG added that no restaurants will close on day one, and employees, suppliers and business rates will continue to be paid on time and in full.
Simon Cope, Byron chief executive, said: “Byron’s core restaurant business and brand remain strong but the market that we operate in has changed profoundly.
“In order to continue serving our loyal customer base, we need to make some critical and difficult changes to the size and shape of our estate.
“With the support of our new owners, our creditors, landlords and other business partners, I’m confident Byron will able to continue providing our consumers with the best burger experience.
“The teams in our restaurants are always such an inspiration and we will work hard to support them throughout this difficult process.”
Rumours about the business’ struggles have been circulating since September last year when we reported that Byron confirmed it would be closing four of its outlets.
But it would not confirm the exact location of the sites it would be shutting down.
Byron isn’t the only chain struggling to stay open. In December Toys R Us submitted plans to shut “at least” 26 of its 106 stores.
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