Sales at Frankie & Benny’s owner The Restaurant Group were chilled by the wintry weather in the first quarter as the casual dining sector continues to suffer from a slowdown in consumer spending.
The company – which also owns brands including Garfunkel’s, Joe’s Kitchen and Chiquito – booked a 4.3% fall in like-for-like sales in the 20 weeks to May 20.
Total revenue dropped 3.1% at The Restaurant Group, which said: “Trading in the period was heavily impacted by the adverse weather and on an underlying basis, excluding the impact of snow, like-for-like sales were down 3.1%.”
In the first seven weeks of the second quarter, like-for-like sales were also down by 1.8%.
Chief executive Andy McCue is overseeing a turnaround at the firm which has seen a revamp of pricing, food quality and marketing, as well as restaurant closures.
The company has closed 26 out of a planned 41 outlets so far this year.
The group said it was “comfortable with the performance” and expects to see “further benefit” from its strategic initiatives as the year progresses.
It added: “Our strategic initiatives are driving improved performance in our leisure business in a market in which like-for-like sales remain challenging.”
Shares were up 4% in morning trade.
The results come at an increasingly challenging time for the casual dining sector.
Burger chain Byron, Jamie’s Italian and Prezzo have all undertaken company voluntary arrangements this year, which saw hundreds of jobs lost and restaurants closed down.
Soaring costs linked to the Brexit-hit pound, the resultant collapse in consumer confidence and rising business rates have combined to hammer the sector, with more pain forecast.