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Byron burger chain brings in administrators

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Byron has a Bridge Street diner
Byron has a Bridge Street diner

Burger chain Byron today appointed administrators in a bid to buy time to allow a rescue deal to be thrashed out, with apparently three potential buyers lined up for a pre-pack administration deal for the chain, which has a Cambridge outlet on Bridge Street.

The company has 51 stores under threat of closure, but is apparently going ahead with plans to reopen next month, which will help ensure that the brand can be sold as a going concern.

The Cambridge outlet hit the headlines when Hollywood star Ben Affleck dined there in July 2019.

The chain was founded by Tom Byng in 2007 but was purchased by current private equity owners Three Hills Capital in 2017.

Before coronavirus it had launched a Company’s Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) restructuring deal, which saw the closure of 10 sites and reduced rents in order to support it after a downturn in trading. With around 1,200 staff still on the books, the chain joins Casual Dining Group (owner of Cafe Rouge), Prezzo, Wahaca and Wasabi on the list of those hospitality companies who have been hardest hit by the pandemic, with government assistance apparently not sufficient to ensure that trade can continue even as the UK prepares for an unprecedented reopening of venues on July 4.

Restaurant groups have been granted a one-year business rates holiday along with VAT deferral and access to a separate grant scheme depending on the rateable value of the companies’ properties.

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 according to the real estate adviser Altus Group.

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 coronavirus lockdown.

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