It's been a "transitional year", Frankie & Benny's and Chiquito owner Restaurant Group said today, after it reported a slide in both revenues and profits.
Adjusted pre-tax profits for the 26 weeks to the beginning of July fell 30.4 per cent to £25.5m: not a great performance, but bang on analysts' expectations.
Like-for-like sales fell 2.2 per cent, while revenues fell 7.1 per cent to £333.1m.
The company opened 12 new restaurants during the period, and expects to open between 18 and 20 during 2017 as a whole.
Despite all this, the company held its dividend at 6.8p per share. Shares rose seven per cent to 340.2p in the first minutes of trading.
Why it's interesting
Restaurant Group has issued three profit warnings since the end of 2015, causing its shares to more than halve.
The company has been dealt a double blow by the increase of the National Living Wage, pushing up staff costs, and the increase in inflation, which has put its margins under pressure.
But a turnaround may be on the cards: former Paddy Power boss Andy McCue, who was brought in as chief executive a year ago, has got to work making its menus more attractive, with cheaper fixed-price menus, higher-quality fare and more choice.
The company's decision to hold its divi at 6.8p per share - that's a decidedly slimline 1.2 times earnings - will be controversial among analysts, but it said it "reflects the board's confidence in the [turnaround] plan".
What Restaurant Group said
We have made good progress against our strategic initiatives outlined in March. Our leisure customers are enjoying a better value, higher quality product; our growth plans for our pubs and concessions businesses are advancing well and we have made good progress in delivering cost efficiencies. I've been impressed with our colleagues' receptiveness to change and thank them for their contribution to stabilising the business.