BigHospitality has learnt that the High Street Kensington site, which opened in 2007, will relaunch in October/November with a new design including more soft seating and communal tables.
Byron has also unveiled a new logo [pictured below], which it says represents "five guests at the table".
The burger brand hired chef and food writer Sophie Michell as food and drink director six weeks ago, and has since changed its bun and patty. It will start offering skin-on fries with a ‘unique’ salt flavouring in October, ahead of a wider menu overhaul next February.
Successful elements will be rolled out across Byron's 52 remaining restaurants over two years from January 2020.
Byron CEO Simon Wilkinson, who joined the group earlier this year, told BigHospitality the changes are supported with a £10m funding package from Byron’s existing investors, who are willing to provide extra cash to accelerate the roll-out if it is successful.
“We’ll fine-tune it in terms of what guests do and don’t like,” says Wilkinson. “The brunch menu will be unique to High Street Kensington, but we’ll see how it goes.”
Getting back on top
The rethink comes after Byron was forced to close 19 of its restaurants under a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) in 2018.
Byron also faced a customer boycott in 2016 after dozens of its workers were arrested in a raid by immigration officials with the chain's 'co-operation'.
The group's earnings fell to £500,000 in the 12 months to 24 June 2018, down from £4.7m in 2017. It reported a post-tax loss of £47.2m for the year, though net liabilities decreased from £61.9m to £2.4m
“Byron was the innovator in the premium burger space and for various reasons we are probably not where we should be in the competitive landscape,” says Wilkinson. “Our aim is to put ourselves back at the top of the premium burger market.”
Wilkinson has a history of turning around casual dining chains. He was CEO of La Tasca for four years from 2011, overseeing a revamp of the business that led to its £20-£25m acquisition by Casual Dining Group in 2015.
He told BigHospitality Byron now has an entirely new management team and is seeing a growth in covers.
“After the turmoil of the business over the last two to three years we’re in a good place,” he says. “We’ve been on a downward curve, but now we feel we’re on the up.”