Burger King’s parent company has approached ‎private equity firms about a deal to invest in its UK operations as it seeks to eke out cost-savings in an increasingly competitive market, according to Sky News.

The media outlet said that Restaurant Brands International (RBI) is in talks with possible backers including Bridgepoint, the owner of Pret a Manger, about a transaction.

The talks are preliminary and may not lead to an agreement, according to several insiders.

Sources said that RBI had contacted several private equity groups about a deal that would see it become the master franchisee of the world’s second-largest fast-food burger chain’s operations in the UK.

Under the US-based company’s plans, a private equity investor would inject tens of millions of pounds into a warchest to be used for buying out individual franchisees.

Such an approach would replicate a similar model used by Burger King in South Korea and other international markets since the chain was acquired by 3G Capital, a Brazilian investment firm,‎ in 2010.

RBI is already said to have lined up a number of major UK franchisees to participate in a transaction.

The majority of Burger King’s 700-plus UK restaurants are franchises, with several dozen owned by the parent company.

The fast-food chain, which recently began trialling a home delivery service in the UK, ‎has been affected by competition from more upmarket competitors such as Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Byron.

Globally, RBI recently reported a like-for-like sales increase at Burger King of 1.7% in the third quarter of its financial year, citing strength in its business in Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia-Pacific and Europe, the Middle East and Africa.