Business

Frankie & Benny's owner speeds up closures

Chiquito restaurant Image copyright Getty Images

The owner of Frankie & Benny's and Chiquito is to speed up plans to close restaurants.

Restaurant Group said it would close up to 90 restaurants by the end of 2021 and it will temporarily suspend its dividend.

Initially it had planned to make the closures - which were first signalled last year - over a six-year period.

The group has seen sales fall at many outlets, despite stronger performances in its Wagamama and pubs units.

Shares in Restaurant Group fell more than 6%.

The Restaurant Group shut 18 Frankie & Benny's and Chiquito outlets last year, as a slowdown in consumer spending hit the UK's casual dining sector.

But on Wednesday, it said it would reduce the number of restaurants further to 260-275 by the end of 2021, down from 350 currently.

All the outlets due to close will be Frankie & Benny's or Chiquito restaurants - although between seven and 12 will be converted to Wagamamas.

The group will aim to avoid job losses by offering staff new roles in restaurants within a reasonable driving distance.

Restaurant Group boss Andy Hornby said: "Our three growth businesses of Wagamama, concessions and pubs are all outperforming their respective markets and have clear potential for further growth.

"I am also acutely aware of the challenges facing our leisure business and the wider casual dining sector."

The Restaurant Group said like-for-like sales in its leisure business, which includes Frankie & Benny's and Chiquito, fell 2.8% in 2019. By contrast, Wagamama sales grew more than 8.5%.

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