Smashburger, the US better-burger chain, is understood to have moved closer to launching in the UK.

M&C Report understands that the company, which currently operates more than 300 corporate and franchise sites across 32 states in the US and five countries, is believed to have entered into a joint venture with an existing multi-site franchisee, who currently backs a complimentary brand in the sector.

It is thought that the move could lead to Smashburger, which has been eyeing the UK market for the last three years, opening its debut site here by the end of the year.

In July 2013, the Smashburger chief executive Dave Prokupek told M&C Report that the brand’s UK strategy would see it look to open two to three sites here over its first two years in the country through a joint venture with an experienced sector operator.

Prokupek, who stepped down later that year, said that the group would take a “Chipotle approach” in terms of the speed of its roll out here and that it would initially look to do a number of JV sites in London, including in villages such as Wimbledon and Richmond

Prokupek was replaced by the group’s president Scott Crane.