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Gourmet Burger Kitchen Faces Uncertain Future After Owner Cuts Off Funding

Parent company Famous Brands is pulling the plug on the long-struggling brand

Burgers and onion rings at GBK - Gourmet Burger Kitchen, the high street burger restaurant chain closing restaurants Gourmet Burger Kitchen

Gourmet Burger Kitchen, better known as GBK, is facing an uncertain future. Parent company Famous Brands, which also owns Wimpy, has announced that it will no longer fund the U.K. “better” burger brand, according to Big Hospitality.

The company bought GBK — which currently operates around 60 restaurants in the U.K. — for £120 million in 2016, and closed 17 in 2018 after struggling, like many of its competitors, to weather the “casual dining crunch.” By August 2019, it had closed a total of That followed a dramatic decline in burger sales and substantial financial losses, as well as a memorably racist attempt at inciting a “curry war” with its “proper Indian” advertising campaign for the Ruby Murray burger. It made a loss of £5.6 million in the 52 weeks to 25 February 2019, compared to a £0.4 million profit in the same period the year prior. It had, however managed to reduce its operating losses by 76 percent in the period to August 2019, with the CVA seemingly offering some hope for the future that now looks to be extinguished by the impact of COVID-19.

At the time of the purchase, Famous Brands had pledged to double the restaurant group’s estate, which had been exponentially growing through a series of prior purchases: Famous Brands acquired it from Capricorn Ventures — the Nando’s operator — who bought it from Clapham House in 2010. Its original owners — who counted celebrated chef Peter Gordon among their core team — had sold the brand in 2005, after making a name for elaborate, at times over-engineered creations since 2001.

With all of its restaurants temporarily closed since 21 March as a result of the novel coronavirus outbreak, the first hurdle to clear will, eventually, be reopening.