Belfast Telegraph

Restaurant Group vows to reconsider pricing amid 'difficult' trading

The struggling owner of Frankie & Benny's and Garfunkel's has said trading continues to be challenging and a shake-up of the business will only begin to bear fruit towards the end of the year.

The Restaurant Group said like-for-like sales in the fourth quarter fell 5.9% and dropped 3.9% over the year.

Total turnover increased by 3.7% in 2016 to £710.7 million.

Last year the firm announced it is shutting 33 under-performing sites as part of a strategic review.

The Restaurant Group 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.

The next phase of the review will look at stablemates Chiquito, Coast To Coast, Joe's Kitchen and Garfunkel's.

The company said in a statement: "We expect the trading performance of the business in the first half of 2017 to remain difficult, but anticipate momentum improving towards the end of this transitional year as our initiatives start to take effect."

The group also pointed to a series of external cost pressures, such as increases in the National Living Wage, the Apprenticeship Levy, the revaluation of business rates, higher energy taxes and increased costs linked to the collapse in value of the pound.

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