Restaurant Group 'making progress' despite falling half-year sales

The struggling Restaurant Group, owner of burger chain Frankie & Benny's, has reported falling half-year sales

THE struggling owner of Frankie & Benny's has reported falling half-year sales, but chief executive Andy McCue insisted the business has stabilised following turnaround efforts.

Like-for-like sales at the Restaurant Group fell 2.2 per cent in the six months to July 2, with total sales dropping over 7 per cent to £333.1 million.

The firm, which is also behind Garfunkel's and Chiquito, saw adjusted pre-tax profit plummet 30.4 per cent to £25.5 million. Statutory profit came in at £2.8 million compared with a loss of £22.5 million in the same period last year.

Mr McCue, who has been closing under-performing restaurants and rejigging menus as he looks to rejuvenate the 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."

It comes after the Restaurant Group admitted it had lost value-conscious customers at Frankie & Benny's following significant price hikes, with the firm pledging to "look at the pricing architecture of the menu" and "reinvigorate the value offer" in a bid to attract more families.

The firm said initiatives such as a menu option of £9.95 for two courses had begun to bear fruit.

"While there remains a lot to do, there are early signs of customer awareness of our changes, with recent data showing an uptick in value for money ratings, net promoter scores and the brand rankings for quality of ingredients and freshness of food," the group said.

The Restaurant Group also said the performance of the its pubs business was boosted by warm weather and helped soften the decline in restaurants.

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