Burger chain Byron reaches deal to sell itself, resulting in 651 job losses

(Reuters) - British burger chain Byron reached a deal to sell itself and in the process is permanently closing over half of its 51 outlets, as well as cutting 651 jobs, the company’s administrators said on Friday.

Under the rescue deal, the remaining 20 sites and 551 staff will transfer to a new owner, Calverton UK, according to the emailed statement.

“After exploring a number of options to safeguard the future of the business and following a competitive sales process, this transaction ensures Byron will continue to have a presence on our high streets,” said Will Wright, an administrator at KPMG who sold the chain.

No financial details of the deal were disclosed but the administrators said that Byron’s existing investors will take a minority stake in the business.

The development comes as the coronavirus outbreak has taken a toll on restaurants and restaurant chains across the world due to government restrictions on people’s movements as well as consumer fears about large public gatherings.

Earlier this month, Azzurri Group, the owner of Zizzi and Ask Italian restaurant chains, reached a deal to close 75 of its branches, putting 1,200 jobs at risk in the middle of the pandemic.

Britain’s death toll from COVID-19 is over 55,000 when deaths from suspected cases are included, and it has the highest “excess death” rate in Europe.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday postponed a planned easing of the coronavirus lockdown in England after a rise in infections amplified fears of a second deadly surge in COVID-19 cases.

Britain reported 846 new cases on Thursday, the highest daily number in over a month.

Reporting by Vishal Vivek and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Matthew Lewis