Burger King is preparing to shut some of its UK restaurants as part of a restructuring process triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, with a goal of opening more drive-through sites.
The fast-food giant has enlisted advisers from AlixPartners to review options for one of its subsidiary companies, which directly owns about 25 of the chain’s outlets.
Options include a company voluntary arrangement or pre-pack administration, Sky News reported.
Since 2017, Burger King’s main franchisee in the UK has been the private equity firm Bridgepoint, the former owner of Pret A Manger.
Burger King, which currently has about 530 restaurants in the UK, reportedly wants to open at least 30 drive-through sites in Britain next year.
Rival McDonald’s has traded well since the national lockdown ended in June, partly due to its bigger drive-through estate.
Alasdair Murdoch, chief executive of Burger King UK, has criticised the Government’s policy towards the hospitality sector since the start of the crisis.
In March, he said the chain would not be paying its quarterly rent bill, writing in an open letter to landlords: “This crisis affects the whole UK economy, which will take time to recover.
“The hospitality industry is especially important to the UK economy. It is the third-largest private sector employer, employs 3.2m people and is [twice as large as] the financial services sector”.
The pandemic has taken a particular toll on the casual dining and wider restaurant industries.
This week, Cote, the French restaurant group, became the latest business to succumb to the financial pressure caused by Covid-19 when it was sold through a pre-pack administration to new investors.
The Byron burger chain has already changed hands and GBK is in the process.
Burger King and Bridgepoint did not respond to requests for comment.