Frankie & Benny’s owner to axe jobs after losses

The Restaurant Group is to close an additional eight sites this year. Pic Lisa Ferguson

The Restaurant Group is to close an additional eight sites this year. Pic Lisa Ferguson

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About 80 jobs are set to be axed after the struggling owner of Frankie & Benny’s swung to a full-year loss.

The Restaurant Group posted a pre-tax loss of £40 million for the year to 1 January after being stung with a £117m exceptional charge linked to restructuring efforts.

In August, the firm, which is also behind Garfunkel’s, said it would shut 33 under-performing sites as part of a strategic review in a move that affected around 1,000 staff.

The group will now close an additional eight restaurants this year, with about 80 jobs set to go.

READ MORE: Change at the top for owner of Frankie & Benny’s

Chief executive Andy McCue said he is “pursuing a new and focused plan to turn around and grow the business”.

This will include finding efficiency savings including “reducing overheads, extracting further purchasing benefits from our scale and reducing the number of people we employ”.

He added: “This will involve some difficult decisions but we are confident our colleagues will embrace being part of a more efficient organisation.”

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Revenue was up 3.7 per cent to £710.7m and, stripping out the exceptional charge, pre-tax profits came in at £77.1m.

Like-for-like sales fell 3.9 per cent over the period and McCue, who was drafted in to the role last year, said the turnaround will take time.

“It will take time to effect the scale of change required and for customers to respond but I’m proud of how our colleagues are rising to the challenge,” he added.

The Restaurant Group operates 488 restaurants and pubs and it also behind Chiquito, Coast To Coast and Brunning & Price.

In January the company admitted it has lost value-conscious customers at Frankie & Benny’s after significant price hikes and the firm pledged to “look at the pricing architecture of the menu” and “reinvigorate the value offer” in a bid to attract more families to its outlets.

Tim Barrett at Numis said: “The new CEO’s strategy involves an improved value proposition in the leisure brands, better service execution, growing the pubs/concessions divisions, building a leaner organisation.

“This should add incremental profit from full year 2019 but will be reinvested into price/marketing in the short term.”

“We are encouraged by the ambitious restructuring and now factor in the additional eight site closures which adds £3m to profit before tax as a result of lower depreciation on the sites. This results in a 4 per cent upgrade to full year 2017 estimates.”

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