Dubai-based vegetarian fast-food franchise Just Falafel has closed down its UK operations, although it hasn't ruled out a return to this country in the future.
Just Falafel, which was founded in Abu Dhabi in 2007 and currently has 42 sites in the Middle East and North America, opened its first UK outpost in London's Covent Garden in January 2013.
At one time the business claimed that it aimed to open 200 UK sites within five years, but opened just a handful in London as well as venues in Croydon and Cambridge.
Several of the locations have since closed, with the original Covent Garden site in Monmouth Street shutting its doors earlier this month.
The group's flagship site in Fulham Broadway, which opened in December 2013, under direct company ownership rather than the franchise model, has also closed.
In a statement explaining the move, Mike Biggins, chief operating officer of Just Falafel, said: "Just Falafel made the decision to close down the existing UK locations as they were created from our previous business model, branding and menu, ahead of an anticipated relaunch with a new, highly experienced restaurant operator capable of rolling out our new menu, look and feel and overall strategy for this key market. We are taking a much more pragmatic and patient approach to develop fewer high-performing locations in the UK to establish a platform for strategic growth. This decision is part of Just Falafel's change in our overall direction and strategy worldwide."
The business, which underwent a rebranding exercise in 2013 and serves freshly cooked falafel, chips, soups and salads, all served in a fast-casual environment, mostly opened small sites of 1,000 sq ft or less in the UK.
Biggins, now chief operating officer, was UK and Ireland chief executive, running the business on behalf of the master franchisee whose global chief executive is Fadi Malas.
Biggins enjoyed a 25-year career at McDonald's before becoming chief operating officer of the Kout Food Group in Kuwait.