September 12, 2007 / 6:16 AM / 12 years ago

Restaurant Group serves up strong sales

The exterior of a Frankie & Benny's restaurant. REUTERS/Files

LONDON (Reuters) - Restaurant Group (RTN.L) posted a 6.5 percent rise in first-half like-for-like sales on Wednesday and said second-half trading had started strongly.

The owner of Frankie & Benny’s restaurants and Chiquito Mexican-style grills reported a better-than-expected underlying pretax profit of 17.2 million pounds on a 17 percent rise in total sales to 171.9 million pounds.

On average analysts expected the firm to report half-year pretax profit of 15.9 million pounds, according to a Reuters Estimates poll of six analysts.

“Since the end of the first half this positive trading pattern has continued, with like-for-like sales currently 7 percent ahead of the prior year for the 36 weeks up until 9 September,” the firm said in a statement.

The Restaurant Group, which also runs the Garfunkel’s and Blubeckers chains, has whittled down its operations on the overcrowded high streets, and now focuses on suburban shopping malls, multiplex cinemas and airports.

It said it would open up to 22 new restaurants in the second half, more than originally planned, and announced an interim dividend of 1.26 pence per share.

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