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Is Byron Burger On the Verge of a Comeback?

The burger chain starts 2019 on the receiving end of £10 million fresh investment

Byron Burger receives a 10 million pound investment in its high street burger chain restaurants Byron [Official Photo]

Byron Burger’s investors have injected £10 million into the struggling burger chain in a bid to accelerate its recovery after a miserable 2018. The investment is earmarked to refurbish the group’s remaining restaurants, in an attempt to improve progress following a financial agreement (CVA) that saw 19 restaurants close; this £10 million sits alongside a £34.5 million private equity injection from Three Hills Capital Partners obtained in 2018, according to the Sunday Times.

The nature of this cash injection of course means that there will need to be some kind of return on investment — it needs to avoid going under, for one — and the business must start to make a recovery. The branding, marketing, and menu choices surrounding Byron’s restructuring last year — including a ‘Classic Flex’ “flexitarian” burger that is a normal beef burger with some mushrooms in itdidn’t bolster the under pressure burger chain, with the brand admitting in summer 2018 that a fresh cash injection would likely be required to keep the business going.

Three Hills Capital Partners became majority shareholders as part of that CVA, taking over from Hutton Collins who bought, and aggressively expanded the chain in 2013 for £100 million. Chief financial officer Russell Hoare described the £10 million injection as a sign of confidence — “this is a clear sign that the Byron chain is now on the right track” — but given its need was foretold several months ago, it’s hard to see it as part of an upward trajectory just yet.

Byron, together with Jamie’s Italian, was the British-born emblem of the so-called casual dining downturn, which has completely transformed the U.K. high street. The perfect storm of rising rates, increased costs, and a jaded audience flatly halted years of growth; brands’ reputations suffered in its wake: Oliver’s alliance with oil company Shell — and a damning national restaurant review for Jamie’s Italian; Byron’s reporting of workers to the Home Office; Gourmet Burger Kitchen’s “Proper Indian” campaign.

Most of those casual dining chains didn’t completely fold, though: those like Byron who made cuts to safeguard their future, did so in the hope that they’d retained enough brand equity to mount a comeback. Time will tell whether Byron has enough in the bank to go with this investment.