More Frankie and Benny's restaurants earmarked for closure

Frankie and Benny's in Wigan
Frankie and Benny's in Wigan

Dozens of Frankie & Benny's restaurants have been put on the market by chain owner, The Restaurant Group.

Twenty restaurants will be closed and sold off and 24 already closed restaurants will also be sold as the operator addresses a massive fall in trade.

Wigan's Robin Retail Park site will not be affected by the closures however the now closed restaurant at Ravenhead Retail Park in St Helens will be put on the market.

The group has announced the 42 sites in addition to the 76 Frankie & Benny's sites it identified earlier this year.

These will not be immediate closures but will largely involve allowing leases to run out at "unattractive" current locations, the group said.

It added that it is "mindful" of the challenges facing the casual dining sector and is also planning ahead with the "uncertainties" created by a no-deal Brexit in mind.

The group, which also owns Wagamama, posted an £87.7 million pre-tax loss in the six months to June 30, falling from a £12.2 million profit in the previous year, as it was weighed down by impairment charges related to its leisure estate.

Like-for-like sales for the period rose by 4 per cent, the company said, as total sales surged on the back of its £559 million acquisition of Wagamama in October 2018.

Wagamama drove the company to a 58 per cent increase in total sales to £515.9 million for the period.

The group also reported a 0.2 per cent rise in like-for-like sales for the past six weeks but said that strong performances in the growing parts of its business were offset by decline in the leisure arm, which includes the Frankie & Benny's and Chiquito brands.

Half-year sales for the leisure division "marginally declined" as it was dented by comparisons against a strong 2018 driven by weather and the men's football World Cup.

Debbie Hewitt, non-executive chairman of The Restaurant Group, said: "We continue to focus on improving our brand offerings and delivering the best possible experience to our customers whilst optimising our leisure business to enhance the overall group performance.

"Prevailing feeling is that uncertainty is having an impact on consumer sentiment but we believe we have a sufficiently strong set of brands.

"Regarding Brexit, the supply of food and labour are the two issues we want clarity on and are working to ensure we are as prepared as possible."

The half-year figures were the first results since the company appointed former HBOS chief Andy Hornsby as its new chief executive.

Mr Hornsby said: "I am delighted to have joined The Restaurant Group in August.

"Despite the well documented challenges facing the casual dining sector, the group's diversified set of brands provides firm foundations."