Burger chain Byron is edging towards administration after becoming the latest restaurant to be hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
The company, which employs around 1,200 staff, filed a notice to appoint administrators from KPMG on Monday.
It is understood that the move, which was first reported by Sky News, will be used to provide protection from creditors as it holds detailed talks over a potential rescue sale.
The burger chain, which runs 51 sites, started a sale process with KPMG earlier this year after being forced to shut its sites in the face of the pandemic.
Byron is now in talks with three potential buyers who are in contention to purchase the business in a possible pre-pack administration deal.
The chain was founded by Tom Byng in 2007 but was purchased by current private equity owners Three Hills Capital in 2017.
However, it launched a Company’s Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) restructuring deal, which saw the closure of 10 sites and reduced rents in order to support it after a downturn in trading.
Despite talks over the potential sale and administration, it is understood that the company intends to begin the phased reopening of sites next month.
Restaurant chains have been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus crisis, with Cafe Rouge owner Casual Dining Group filing its own notice to appoint administrators in recent weeks.
Despite widespread financial restructuring of major restaurant chains over the last couple of years, the overall number of restaurants still rose by 2% last year according to the real estate adviser Altus Group.
The number of properties classified as restaurants for the purpose of business rates in England and Wales increased by 563 to 27,995 at the end of 2019 and are up a further 183 to 28,178 during the first six months of 2020 despite the coronavirus lockdown.