The struggling owner of Frankie & Benny’s and Garfunkel’s has swung to a loss and announced that it is shutting 33 under-performing sites as part of strategic review.
Frankie and Benny’s have restaurants in Belfast, Coleraine, Ballymena, Lisburn and Londonderry.
The Restaurant Group booked pre-tax losses of £22.5 million for the first half of the year as it took a hit from a £59.1 million exceptional charge linked to the store closures and writedowns.
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 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.
The next phase of the review will look at stablemates Chiquito, Coast To Coast, Joe’s Kitchen and Garfunkel’s.
Earlier this month, the company ousted chief executive Danny Breithaupt, replacing him with the former boss of Paddy Power, Andy McCue.