Restaurant Group plots more site openings as profits jump

THE RESTAURANT Group, the owner of the Garfunkel’s and Frankie & Benny’s chains, said another 600 jobs were in the pipeline for this year after boasting of another “corking” set of full-year results for 2011.

Revenue increased to £487m in the year to January, while like-for-like sales were up 3.25 per cent. Pre-tax profit was up 12 per cent to £60.3m.

The group opened 25 new sites last year and now operates 400 restaurants and pub restaurants across the UK. It plans storm ahead with 30 new sites this year, creating 600 jobs.

“The performance of our recent years’ openings has been outstanding and this bodes well for the future,” chief executive Andrew Page said.

He warned the economic climate in 2012 would be “every bit as tough” as 2011 but insisted there was “scope for quite an uptick in the second half” as the group’s restaurants in retail parks benefit from a strong line-up of film releases.

Trading for the first eight weeks of this year slowed, with like-for-like sales down two per cent, sending shares tumbling 4.3 per cent yesterday. However Page expects sales to improve as inflation abates.

“We are comparing against a period last year when there was a bounce back from the weather in December and film like the King’s Speech were released,” he said.

Peel Hunt analyst Nick Batram said: “The Restaurant Group’s proven business model, excellent management, solid balance sheet and strong cash flow place the group in a strong position for when the recovery comes through.”