In accounts filed to Companies House for June 2016 — June 2017, the company reported a £55 million operational loss, following a £0.1 million profit in the same period 2015 — 2016. These are the bare numbers. The report also states that “a further deterioration in trading conditions could result in liquidity problems for the company,” “which may cast significant doubt over the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.” In other words: the entire operation is at risk of going under.
Those recent menu changes leaned hard into contemporary trends: ‘The Flex’, a 70-30 blend of beef and mushrooms, tried to capture the ‘flexitarian’ market, landing, predictably, in something of a no-man’s land. Even more recently, the ‘cheese melt’, ‘jack stack’ and ‘beetnik’ have joined the menu, innovation which feels too little, too late in light of these accounts. Able to cultivate neither the cult following of the likes of London-born burger brands, such as Meat Liquor and Patty and Bun nor the saturated accessibility of McDonalds and the like, Byron’s mid-market position looks to be its downfall. It’s not like it’s the only one struggling; it’s also not the case that everyone is in trouble.