Restaurants expecting a blockbuster

Chiquito and Frankie & Benny's owner Restaurant Group is banking on a strong line-up of blockbusters such as the latest Harry Potter film to boost customer numbers over the coming months.

The firm, which runs most of its 380 restaurants from leisure parks with cinemas, said the movie release schedule in its final quarter should help fill its outlets and see it meet full-year profit expectations.

Films such as The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows are predicted to break box office records in the run up to Christmas.

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The positive outlook came as the group, which also owns Garfunkel's, reported like-for-like growth of 0.25 per cent in the 45 weeks to 7 November. Analysts said this reflected a turnaround from the 0.5 per cent decline in its first half to almost 1.5 per cent growth in the third quarter.

The company has had a turbulent year after the volcanic ash crisis hit sales in the 40 restaurants it owns in airports.

This was compounded by a poor performance during the World Cup in June and July as customers either stayed at home or ate in pubs showing the tournament.