Belfast Telegraph

Frankie & Benny's sites set to go on market after closure of four Northern Ireland restaurants

By John Mulgrew

A group of restaurant properties is being put on the market after the owner of Italian diner-style chain Frankie & Benny's revealed it was shutting locations here, it can be revealed.

The so-called Project Tail portfolio includes restaurants at retail parks and shopping centres across Northern Ireland.

The range of soon-to-be vacant locations are being handled by commercial property firm Savills.

It includes four Frankie & Benny's restaurants, located in Ballymena, Bangor, Coleraine and Londonderry.

And Tex-mex restaurant Chiquito at Victoria Square will also become part of the list of restaurants going on the market.

The move to fill the sites comes after The Restaurant Group - company behind Frankie & Benny's - announced it is to close 33 of its UK outlets following a pre-tax loss of £22.5m for the first half of the year.

The group has seven eateries in Northern Ireland.

Those to close include the Frankie & Benny's in Ballymena, Coleraine, Londonderry and Bangor.

The Belfast Victoria Square Chiquito is also set to close.

Paul Wilson of Savills said: "This is an extremely rare opportunity to acquire a portfolio of restaurant units, ranging from approximately 3,600 sq ft to 6,750 sq ft at some of the most prominent retail destinations across Northern Ireland.

"Each location has a strong retail and/or leisure offering and a high calibre of neighbouring A3 occupiers, making it an ideal location for a food and beverage operator to either acquire multiple sites to provide a critical mass or as individual outlets."

Chiquito is located on the second floor of Victoria Square, and sits alongside a range of other chain restaurants including Cosmo, Five Guys, Frankie & Benny's, Kua 'Aina and Nando's.

The four Frankie & Benny's businesses which will soon become part of the property portfolio include the restaurant in Ballymena at the IMC Cinema Complex.

The Bangor restaurant is located at Bloomfield Shopping Centre, while the Coleraine outlet is at the Riverside Retail Park.

And the final Frankie & Benny's in Londonderry is situated at Crescent Link Retail Park.

Parent company The Restaurant Group announced in August that it was cutting between 80 and 100 jobs here as a result of the closures.

A spokesman for the business said: "The company expects few, if any redundancies. In total in Northern Ireland, 80-100 people will be affected."

A statement described the sites as "under-performing" and said that the closures were part of a "strategic review" into the company.

The business posted pre-tax losses of £22.5m for the first half of the year as it took a hit from a £59.1m exceptional charge linked to the store closures and write-downs.

The store closures will affect up to 1,000 jobs, although it is understood that the company will redeploy the vast majority in other outlets.

Like-for-like sales fell by 3.9% as the group, which had previously issued a string of profit warnings, flagged a "challenging trading period".

Belfast Telegraph