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The Restaurant Group to shut up to 90 branches

By James Pugh | Business | Published:

Frankie & Benny's owner The Restaurant Group (TRG) plans to close up to 90 restaurant sites by the end of next year.

Frankie & Benny's restaurant at Merry Hill

The dining firm said the closures will impact sites across its leisure portfolio, which includes the Frankie & Benny's and Chiquito brands, and comes after it exited 18 sites in 2019.

Frankie and Benny's has restaurants across the region including in Shrewsbury, Telford, Stafford, Merry Hill, Kidderminster, Dudley, Walsall and Lichfield.

There are Chiquito restaurants in Shrewsbury, Walsall, Wolverhampton and Dudley.

TRG also owns the Brunning & Price pub chain, including The Armoury in Shrewsbury, The Fox at Chetwynd Aston, the Woodbridge at Coalport, The Inn at Shipley, The Oakley Arms at Brewood and The Red Lion at Longden Green.

Details of which restaurants will close have not yet been revealed.

The closure plan comes amid a tough period for casual dining chains, with rivals such as Jamie's Italian collapsing over the past year.

TRG said at least 31 of its leisure sites will not see their contract renewed, with the number potentially rising depending on discussions with landlords.

It added that it also expects to dispose of up to 35 further sites, sell another 12 freehold sites, and plans to convert up to 12 current leisure restaurants into its more profitable Wagamama brand.

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The move will take its leisure portfolio down to 260 to 275 sites by the end of 2021, from 350.

TRG confirmed the closure plans as it reported like-for-like sales growth of 2.7 per cent for the year to December.

The group saw total sales soar 56.4 per cent to £1.07 billion as it was buoyed by its £559 million acquisition of Wagamama in October 2018.

It said Wagamama continues to drive growth in the business, with the pan-Asian chain reporting an 8.5 per cent increase in like-for-like sales over the period.

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The group, which has 650 sites in total, slipped to a pre-tax loss of £37.3 million for the year, from a £13.9 million loss in 2018, as it was weighed down by its unprofitable leisure restaurants.

Andy Hornby, chief executive officer of TRG, said: "Our three growth businesses of Wagamama, concessions and pubs are all out-performing their respective markets and have clear potential for further growth.

"I am also acutely aware of the challenges facing our leisure business and the wider casual dining sector.

"Following an extensive review we have defined three clear strategic priorities for the next two years: Grow our Wagamama, concessions and pubs businesses; rationalise our leisure business; and accelerate our deleveraging profile."

James Pugh

By James Pugh
@JamesP_Star

Shropshire Star Business and Farming Editor.

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