When Famous Brands went on the hunt for a "transformational" UK acquisition, rival Nando’s saw it coming. Nando’s had Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) ready to foist on the overeager buyer. Famous Brands, which was built on SA power brands including Debonairs Pizza, Steers, Wimpy and Mugg & Bean, made a grab for GBK in October 2016, snapping it up for what was to prove a very inflated, debt-funded £120m. It was a winning deal for Nando’s, which had acquired the-then 53-restaurant GBK for £30m six years earlier — when the premium burger sector was just taking off. For Famous Brands, GBK brought with it 97 corporate-owned restaurants. It was at a time when consumer confidence was dwindling in the wake of Brexit, the UK’s vote in June 2016 to exit the European Union. The premium burger sector was also showing signs of fast becoming overtraded. It was a trend seemingly ignored when Famous Brands pushed the button to acquire GBK. "GBK has had to face a proliferation of competitors," says Fam...

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