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Frankie & Benny's owner lifts profits

Frankie & Benny's owner The Restaurant Group lifted half-year profits today despite a dip in sales caused by the World Cup.

The firm, which owns 450 restaurants and pubs, said its pre-tax profits jumped 12.3% to £33.7 million over the 26 weeks to June 29 as it opened new sites and catered for more diners at existing outlets. Sales rose 10% to £308 million.

The firm, which includes Chiquito and Coast to Coast, added that like-for-like sales lifted 2.5% over the period, despite suffering its only negative month in June due to the impact of the World Cup.

The FTSE 250 group said business soon picked up with strong trading in the following two months, meaning that for the 34 weeks to August 24 like-for-like sales lifted to 3.5%.

It opened 17 outlets during the first half of the year and plans to open between 38 and 43 restaurants during 2014.

Retiring chief executive Andrew Page, who has been at the business for 12 years, said: "The Restaurant Group is in great shape, I am confident that it will continue to prosper."

Incoming boss Danny Breithaupt, who has promoted to the top job, said the group has "a clear strategy and successful brands."

The group's largest chain Frankie & Benny's, with 240 outlets, traded strongly during the period with the increasing number of breakfasts it sold contributing to profit growth. It opened nine restaurants in the first half, and expects to open up to 21 outlets during the year.

It said its Chiquito chain was benefiting from the popularity of Tex-Mex food, adding that it opened one outlet during the period and plans to open up to nine in 2014.

The firm said an improving economy, low inflation and high levels of employment left it well placed to deliver another profitable year. The business added it was on track to double in size over the next eight to ten years.

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