Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) is to close 26 restaurants and axe 362 roles despite being saved from administration.

The chain has been bought in a rescue deal by Boparan Restaurant Group, which also snapped Carluccio's out of insolvency earlier in the pandemic.

GBK said it had started to see improvements in trading last year after a major restructuring process in 2018, which saw it shut a raft of sites.

However, the company, which had been owned by South African group Famous Brands, said it slid into administration after the virus impacted upon its liquidity and potential to be sold as a solvent business.

The group has now been sold in a pre-pack administration deal after working with insolvency specialists at Deloitte.

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It said the move will save 35 sites and 669 jobs from its original network of 61 restaurants and 1,031 employees.

Gavin Maher, joint administrator at Deloitte, said: "As with a number of dining businesses, the broader challenges facing 'bricks and mortar' operators, combined with the effect of the lockdown, resulted in a deterioration in financial performance and a material funding requirement.

"We have been working closely with the management team under very difficult market conditions to try and find a funding solution and I am glad to be able to announce the rescue of this well-loved brand together with a large proportion of the sites and workforce.

"However, it's clearly disappointing that a number of sites have had to close resulting in today's redundancies.

"We would like to thank all of those involved in the transaction, including our legal advisers, DLA Piper, and wish the management team, workforce and the new owners, Boparan Restaurant Group, every success in now taking the business forward."

It is the latest expansion in dining for Boparan, which is owned by Ranjit Boparan and also owns the chains Giraffe and Ed's Easy Diner.

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