High Streets Initiative · 26 March 2020

Should Byron benefit from the Government’s COVID-19 support schemes?

The private-equity owned burger chain hopes to take advantage of the Government’s coronavirus support measures to keep it afloat. When it comes to the high street, should larger chains like Byron have the right to profit from government generosity when there are so many smaller retailers that need it more

UK burger brand Byron is struggling.

Closed for business amid the coronavirus pandemic, the chain joins a host of other retailers that are experiencing the adverse economic effects of forced closures, where they all face the question of what to do about their workforce.

However, that isn’t the entire story. Byronhas been in financial trouble before.

The Byron story

In 2018, Byron underwent financial restructuring under a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) administered by KPMG. The aim was to cut costs and combat the brand’s poor financial performance, which was attributed to changing consumer habits in the dining market as a result of Brexit.

Two years and seventeen store closures later, it now operates from fifty restaurants and employs 1, 200 people. So where the likes of Jamie’s Italian failed, Byron, via some savvy accounting, (and the closing down of its poor-performing restaurants), has lived to fight another day on the high street.

Following the outbreak of COVID-19 in the UK and the subsequent closure of all non-essential retailers, Byron has sought the help of KMPG once again to help it through this period of economic uncertainty, however, it is also looking to the Government for financial help during this time:

Government (coronavirus) assistance

According to Sky News, Byron is keen to take advantage of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and seeks to “furlough” a majority of its staff. However, the company’s 45m+ turnover and lack of investment-grade credit rating mean it can’t take advantage of another government-backed scheme, namely the Covid Corporate Financing Facility, (CCFF), which is offering qualifying UK businesses some 330bn’s worth of loans.

Of course, Byron isn’t the only one trying to cushion the blow of this economic fallout. Countless other businesses great and small are assessing their eligibility for the Government’s support measures, which have, and continue to be announced by UK chancellor, RishI Sunak.

While the chancellor has already given restaurant chains?”a 12-month business rates holiday” and “VAT deferral” including “access to a separate grant scheme depending upon the rateable value of their properties, ” a number have also decided to withhold their rents due to coronavirus.

Restaurant chains withhold rent


 
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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Annie May is the Features Editor at Real Business and Business Advice. Following her graduation from LSE, she embarked upon a freelance career in current affairs journalism. Annie has written on subjects varying from African history and contemporary politics to community business and current affairs news in London. At Real Business and Business Advice, Annie is passionate about highlighting inclusive and diverse business disruptors and organisations for our evolving readership. Annie believes in fostering community inclusion and has volunteered for organisations such as Fairfield House, a UK based Rastafari centre and a senior citizen association for ethnic minority men and women.

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