A BURGER chain's plan to open a restaurant in Worcester's £20m Cathedral Square plaza is in serious doubt following new announcements on the firm's future.

Accountancy firm KPMG has revealed that Byron could close up to 20 restaurants nationally as part of a financial rescue proposal, under a Company Voluntary Agreement to allow it to continue to trade.

And a report by the Press Association says the planned Worcester outlet is on the "at risk of closure" list, before it has even opened.

Last year the first reports emerged that Byron was financially stricken due to increased competition that had caused a slump in sales growth.

In October a spokesman from the firm stressed that, despite this, Byron was still on course to move into Cathedral Square at an allocated unit which has been empty since the square opened last summer.

The Worcester News has contacted the firm again but was told by a spokesman there would be no comment on individual restaurants or speculation, but they did send us a general statement concerning Byron's restructuring plan.

The statement says the plan allows Byron to refocus the business "on a smaller, more profitable core estate", more suitable to the "current economic headwinds affecting the sector", while "continuing to meet Byron’s obligations to suppliers and creditors".

Byron's chief executive Simon Cope said: “Byron’s core restaurant business and brand remain strong but the market that we operate in has changed profoundly.

"In order to continue serving our loyal customer base, we need to make some critical and difficult changes to the size and shape of our estate.

“With the support of our new owners, our creditors, landlords and other business partners, I’m confident Byron will able to continue providing our consumers with the best burger experience."

Byron currently has more than 70 outlets and employs about 1,800 staff nationally.

Along with Worcester on the list of 20 outlets 'at risk of closure' is one in Birmingham and another in Stratford.