Belfast Telegraph

Frankie & Benny's and Chiquito owner to close four Northern Ireland restaurants

By Jonny Bell

The struggling owner of Frankie & Benny's and Chiquito is to close four of its restaurants in Northern Ireland.

The Restaurant Group announced it is to close 33 of its UK outlets following a pre-tax loss of £22.5million 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 and Derry. The Belfast Victoria Square Chiquito is also set to close.

A spokesman for the company said they expected job loss numbers to be relatively small as staff would be deployed to other restaurants. Around 1,000 staff are affected across the UK.

He said the group was planning to open 24 new eateries nationwide.

The company took a hit from a £59.1m exceptional charge linked to the store closures and writedowns.

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

Chairman Debbie Hewitt said: "The board has moved quickly to undertake a review of the operating strategy and we now have clarity on the issues facing our leisure brands, particularly Frankie & Benny's.

"The brand remains relevant and popular and we are confident that improved performance will be achieved by being more customer-focused and data-driven, and through better operational execution."

The Restaurant Group admitted it has lost value-conscious customers at Frankie & Benny's after "significant price increases". 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.

Earlier this month, the company ousted chief executive Danny Breithaupt, replacing him with the former boss of Paddy Power, Andy McCue.


From Belfast Telegraph