Coronavirus: Gourmet Burger Kitchen to shut 26 restaurants in pre-pack rescue deal | Business News

Gourmet Burger Kitchen is to close 26 restaurants and axe 362 jobs as part of a pre-pack deal that will save the bulk of the chain’s workforce.

The deal, confirming a story first reported by Sky News, will see poultry tycoon Ranjit Boparan take control of the chain.

Deloitte, which is handling the administration process, said the sale would secure 35 sites and 669 jobs.

Mr Boparan, who earlier this year rescued the Carluccio’s chain, already controls the Giraffe, Ed’s Easy Diner and Fishworks chains as well as 2 Sisters Food Group, one of Britain’s biggest private sector employers.

Gourmet Burger Kitchen previously went through a major restructuring in 2018 which saw dozens of restaurants close.

It was put up for sale this year after South Africa-based owned Famous Brands indicated it would not provide any further funding to see it through the coronavirus crisis.

Gavin Maher, joint administrator at Deloitte, said: “As with a number of dining businesses, the broader challenges facing ‘bricks and mortar’ operators, combined with the effect of the lockdown, resulted in a deterioration in financial performance and a material funding requirement.”

The transaction is the latest in a swathe of deals which have reshaped Britain’s casual dining industry since the start of the coronavirus crisis.

Hospitality chiefs have warned that a second nationwide lockdown would trigger hundreds of thousands of job losses across the industry, with regional restrictions already exacerbating the crisis facing pub operators and other leisure groups.

Few restaurant chains have been able to weather the COVID-19 period without some form of restructuring, with companies including Burger King, the owner of Wagamama, Prezzo and Casual Dining Group all resorting to insolvency processes, auctions or emergency fundraisings.

Wahaca, the chain co-founded by former Masterchef winner Thomasina Miers, recently completed a company voluntary arrangement to put it on a sounder financial footing.

Sky News