Gourmet Burger Kitchen CEO Alasdair Murdoch and COO Keith Bird are leaving the business


GBK has found it hard to make things stack up (Source: Getty)

The chief executive of Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) is to step down from the burger chain amid difficult trading for the casual dining industry.

Alasdair Murdoch, who has been chief executive for seven years and was previously the boss of Pizza Express, will step down at the end of this year.

“I am very proud to have been a small part of the story that made GBK great," he said. "It is the journey that is important and I feel that the time is right now for someone else to lead GBK through its next stage in its life cycle."

Chief operating officer Keith Bird, who joined seven years ago, is also leaving. Meanwhile operations director Karen Stone is also stepping down after 18 months for personal reasons.

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This comes as the business faces the same challenges as its peers in the casual dining industry, including higher costs of labour and waning consumer confidence.

The business is also reportedly looking into slowing plans for new stores after disappointing results.

GBK was bought by South African company Famous Brands, which also owns Nando's and Wimpy, last year. But the poor performance of GBK weighed on its new owner's share price last month when it was revealed how expensive it had become to take on. The news wiped almost 1.3bn rand off the Johannesburg-listed company's market cap

The departure of another leisure sector boss comes on the same day as the founder and chief executive of Gaucho, Zeev Godik, announced his departure from the business after 41 years.

It also comes a few weeks after rival Byron Burger appointed a new chief exec.