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September 5, 2019

Restaurant Group lines up closures in leisure business

The Restaurant Group, a British chain of restaurants and public houses, has identified several structurally unattractive restaurants in its Leisure division which it may seek to close in future.

The Restaurant Group, a British chain of restaurants and public houses, has identified several structurally unattractive restaurants in its Leisure division which it may seek to close in future.

The company posted an £87.7m pre-tax loss in the first six months to 30 June 2019, falling from a £12.2m profit in the previous year.

In the first eight months of 2019, the company closed 16 sites, reducing the overall leisure estate to 352 sites.

Of the sites closed, 10 were from Frankie & Benny’s brand and four were related to Chiquito brand. The company closed one site each from Coast to Coast and its Garfunkel brands.

The company’s operating loss was £79.3m, reflecting a pre-tax charge of £115.7m associated mostly to the impairment and onerous lease provisions in the Leisure business.

Group like-for-like sales increased 3.7% for the first 34 weeks of the financial year benefiting from soft comparatives in the prior year, the company said. Last year the Restaurant Group purchased Wagamama for £559m.

The company expects to exit about 50% of Leisure sites reaching their next exit date, and said that will continue to explore market opportunities to exit the sites earlier where possible.

The Restaurant Group non-executive chairman Debbie Hewitt said: “We are mindful of the headwinds in the casual dining sector and the meaningful uncertainties created by the potential of a ‘no-deal Brexit’ and are planning with this in mind.  However, our business is now better diversified and purposefully positioned to benefit from multiple opportunities for growth.”

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