Restaurant Group serves up profit rise

RESTAURANT Group – which owns the Garfunkel’s and Chiquitos chains – saw a slim rise in profit last year.

Revenues were up five per cent to £436m while pre-tax profits rose two per cent to a higher-than-expected £50m, the company said yesterday.

The company has weathered the recession without the massive discounting seen by some rivals.

The group – which specialises in restaurants on out-of-town sites – opened 19 new restaurants last year.

Chief executive Andrew Page said that when customers were more confident of keeping their jobs they would come “flying” back.

He added: “House prices are stabilising, incomes are rising and when we get to the key point when people no longer fear they could lose their jobs, there could be a real fillip to consumer spending.”

The operator of about 367 restaurants and pubs said it declared a second interim dividend of 6.3p and proposed a final dividend of 0.3p, taking the full-year dividend to 8p – up four per cent from last year.

Some brokers upgraded their forecasts for the company’s current year by around £1m to £53m, predicting much stronger growth in 2011.

The group also encompasses the Frankie and Benny’s chain and is hoping to open up to 25 new restaurants this year.

For this first nine weeks of this year revenues were six per cent ahead of last year and like-for-like sales up one per cent.