The food chain will be leaving its ground floor site in the 141,700 sq ft dining destination on Exchange Street in Manchester after just two years.
Byron opened in the Exchange in September 2015 after the first phase of the Aviva Investors and Queensberry Real Estate development was completed. Sources said the chain is now looking to exit in early 2018, and will be the first restaurant in the renovated building to do so.
Those close to Byron told Place North West that the variety of outlets in the Corn Exchange is too great for the business to cope with and, with Manchester’s other Byron locations, financial success has been hindered. Deansgate’s Byron opened in 2013, followed by the Piccadilly Gardens site in 2015, and both are said to be trading well.
According to reports, there are three other Byron sites closing across the UK, in Newcastle, Glasgow, and London.
Insiders said that Byron will not stop trading in the Corn Exchange until an assigned lease is completed, whereby all rights of the property are transferred to another party, including lease length. This means that Byron will not have to pay an early exit fee. Popular brands are said to be interested in the lease, though none have been confirmed.
Another source said that the Corn Exchange’s Byron generates much of its business during event nights at the Manchester arena, but because of its temporary closure in May after the attack, business has taken a further hit.
A spokesman from Aviva Investors said: “We can confirm that we are in talks with Byron as they look to consolidate their offer in Manchester from three restaurants to two.
“While still at an early talks stage we have already received multiple offers of interest in the unit should we collectively decide to move forward with lease negotiations.”
Gondola Group sold the food chain in 2013 to private investment company Hutton Collins in a combined cash and debt-for-equity swap valued at £100m. Hutton Collins paid £70m in cash and shelled out £32m for Byron’s debts.
With just one restaurant in 2007, Byron had expanded to 32 before the Hutton Collins sale. By December 2016, when Byron’s founder Tom Byng stepped down, 70 sites were operating.
A desirable business model for private equity companies involved in F&B is to buy restaurant chains with a projected rapid growth, later selling long-term investments to rival buyout firms. Hutton Collins’ plan was to grow the food chain by 10 sites per year, but with the impending closure of four restaurants, site numbers will drop to 64.
Despite this, reports say that generally, Byron is trading successfully.
The second phase of the Queensberry and Aviva development at the Corn Exchange is a 114-bed hotel operated by Roomzzz. set to open in autumn of this year. Other restaurants in the Corn Exchange include Mowgli, Gino D’acampo, and Pho, which are said to be trading well.
Metris Real Estate and Cushman & Wakefield are agents on the Corn Exchange scheme.
All parties have been contacted for comment.