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Harden's survey result
This once-market-leading burger chain lost nearly 1/3 of its branches in 2018 and another 31 went in July 2020 leaving this familiar name just 20 sites? But despite plummeting ratings in the last survey it maintained a big following who wanted to see management succeed: the “formula may need a bit of refreshment”, they said, but “it’s a brand that does not deserve to be sneered at!” Perhaps looking forwards, post pandemic, the only way is up?
Will the July 2019 adoption of a vegan burger option help turn around the fortunes of this once-market-leading burger chain, which lost nearly 1/3 of its branches in 2018 during a much-publicised CVA (Company Voluntary Agreement)? Still-plummeting ratings suggest it still has a mountain to climb with reports of food that’s “not up to scratch” and “branches that seem unloved”. But even so, it maintains a big following who want to see management succeed: the “formula may need a bit of refreshment”, they say, but “it’s a brand that does not deserve to be sneered at!” HOLD THE FRONT PAGE: In August 2019, the chain took a dramatic further step towards a complete turnaround… a new logo!
“Once upon a time this chain of posh burger joints stood out from the pack”, but – in an ever-moving and competitive market – its troubles in Spring 2018 were well publicised, with five of its 39 restaurants within the M25 (and a total of 16 nationally) having closed. That said, while the view that it is “OK but nothing special” has become widespread nowadays, it still remains one of the most talked-about brands in the survey; ratings improved a smidgeon this year; and a fair few reporters feel that “the business may be in trouble, but the burgers are still the real deal”. Top Tip: “love the courgette fries”.
Supporters say “hats off to an unformulaic formula”, but enthusiasm is waning fast for this ‘posh patties’ group, which seems increasingly “overtaken by the independent burger joints”, and whose ratings are heading inexorably south. Supporters do still applaud its “upmarket burgers and good choice of sides”, but there are too many former fans who – amidst gripes over “slipping standards” and “soulless” branches – say its “descent to chain-dom” is nearly complete. (Whether Tom Byng its founder stepping down as CEO at the end of the 2016 is causative or symptomatic is hard to read).
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