A CITY centre gourmet burger bar has closed down.

Gourmet Burger Kitchen has removed all of the branding from its Friars Walk premises in Newport, and the shopping centre has confirmed the franchise has left the city.

A spokesman for Friars Walk added that there were no plans for the restaurant to reopen at this time.

The chain, owned by South Africa’s Famous Brands, was reported to be facing financial difficulties in September, and was understood to have appointed restructuring advisers to negotiate deals with landlords on rent cuts and site closures.

It was also reported the company was considering a potential company voluntary arrangement (CVA).

It's been a tough year for mid market hight street chain restaurants, with the likes of Byron, Jamie's Italian and Carluccio's all facing huge difficulties.

Gourmet Burgers is the third food chain to pull out of Friars Walk in recent times, following in the footsteps of Mission Burrito and Frankie and Benny's.

Friars Walk Centre Director, Simon Pullen, today confirmed the closure, and said it was part of a wider picture that has seen a number of closures by the burger chain in other parts of the country.

“I can confirm that GBK closed on Tuesday 11 September and as far as we are aware, there are no plans for the restaurant to reopen at this time although this hasn’t been confirmed," said Mr Pullen.

“As has been well documented over the last year, it is a difficult trading climate for the casual dining market across the country and this is having an impact on restaurants such as GBK and forcing them to look at their portfolios and streamlining as they feel necessary. This unfortunately means the closure of some profitable units.”

Kevin Ward, manager of the Newport Now Business Improvement District, which represents more than 400 city centre businesses, said any closure of any business in the city centre is a concern.

"Following a series of reports over the summer about increased losses and reduced like-for-like sales incurred by Gourmet Burger Kitchen nationwide, and last week's decision by the chain to appoint restructuring advisors Deloitte, closures have not come as a surprise," said Mr Ward.

"GBK's Newport closure is one of a number around the UK and to suggest it is a Newport issue would be disingenuous.

"GBK is in a hugely competitive market, but other businesses in the restaurant quarter at Friars Walk are doing extremely well and we have a growing number of independent eateries in and around the city centre that are building loyal customer bases.

"The BID continues to provide events and services to its members that help drive footfall in the city centre and we will be announcing some exciting plans for the vital Christmas trading period in the next few weeks."

Gourmet Burger Kitchen have been contacted for comment.