Restaurant Brands International (RBI), the company that owns Burger King, has reportedly opened talks with possible backers about a deal to consolidate the fast food chain’s UK franchises.
According to Sky News, RBI has approached private equity firms about investing in the UK operations in a bid to “eke out” cost-savings in an increasingly competitive market.
One of the backers it is said to be in discussions with is Bridgepoint, the company that owns Pret A Manger.
The talks are said to be “preliminary” and may not lead to an agreement, insiders told the broadcaster.
Sources said that RBI had contacted several private equity groups about a deal that would see it become the master franchisee of the world’s second largest burger chain’s operations in the UK.
It hopes to persuade a private equity investors to inject tens of millions of pounds into a war-chest to be used for buying out individual franchisees.
Burger King has adopted a similar strategy in South Korea and other international markets since the chain was acquired by 3G Capital, a Brazilian investment firm, in 2010.
The majority of Burger King’s 700-plus UK restaurants are franchises, with several dozen owned by the parent company, the report said.
It claimed the move was a reaction to increased competition from more upmarket competitors such as GBK and Byron.
Burger King has not commented on the speculation.