Business leaders in Newport have moved to calm fears over the future of the city’s flagship Friars Walk shopping centre after a third food chain pulled out of the development.
Gourmet Burger Kitchen closed its doors on Monday. The move follows the departures of Frankie and Benny’s and Mission Burrito several months ago.
However, all three were part of a series of UK closures by the chains as mid-range food outlets become the latest high street names to feel the pressure of changing consumer trends.
GBK has also closed branches in Oldham and Southport while pulling out of plans to open in Chelmsford.
The decisions follow GBK’s move to appoint restricting experts Deloitte to advise on its future. Industry insiders believe the burger chain will soon enter a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), following the likes of Prezzo and Jamie’s Italian.
A slump in casual dining and huge competition among high street eateries have seen many closures over recent months.
Kevin Ward, manager of the Newport Now Business Improvement District, which represents more than 400 city centre businesses, said:
“Clearly, any closure of any business in the city centre is of concern to the BID and its members.
“Following a series of reports over the summer about increased losses and reduced like-for-like sales incurred by Gourmet Burger Kitchen nationwide, and last week’s decision by the chain to appoint restructuring advisors Deloitte, closures have not come as a surprise.
“GBK’s Newport closure is one of a number around the UK and to suggest it is a Newport issue would be disingenuous.
“GBK is in a hugely competitive market, but other businesses in the restaurant quarter at Friars Walk are doing extremely well and we have a growing number of independent eateries in and around the city centre that are building loyal customer bases.
“The BID continues to provide events and services to its members that help drive footfall in the city centre and we will be announcing some exciting plans for the vital Christmas trading period in the next few weeks.”