Gourmet Burger Kitchen sales have improved since the chain closed several underperforming sites, its owner has said.

Famous Brands, the South African owner of the burger restaurants, said like-for-like sales in the 16 weeks to February 24 were up four per cent, ahead of the market average.

In the full 12 months to February 28, like-for-like sales were down 4.2%.

Overall sales were down 7% reflecting the reduced number of stores.

But underlying performance improved in the second half, when like-for-like sales were up 1.6%, compared to a decline of 9.7% in the first half.

GBK launched a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) last year, getting the green light from creditors in November to go ahead with 17 restaurant closures out of 80, with ten closed south of the Border before the end of the year, affecting 250 jobs in total.

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The brand said management is "optimistic" that the actions taken are gaining momentum and being reflected in the improved results.

A one-off cost of £18.3 million will be incurred for the year, as the costs of write-downs on empty sites and professional fees for the CVA.

Car dealership Pendragon has blamed Brexit uncertainty for a sharp fall in new car sales last year as it swung into the red with losses of £44.4 million.

The losses compare with profits of £65.3m in 2017.

The group, which owns the Stratstone and Evans Halshaw brands, said on an underlying basis, pre-tax profits fell 21 per cent to £47.8m for 2018 on revenues 2% lower at £4.6 billion after UK new car sales fell 5.2%.

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The group said: "New car sales have been subdued and consumer confidence has been adversely affected in the period by macro newsflow."

It added it will focus investment on used car sales to help keep performance "broadly stable" in 2019.

Security firm G4S posted a 63 per cent drop in profits on higher costs related to settlement of a lawsuit and a charge for pension equalisation regulation.

It comes after the company warned last November that revenue would be lower than forecast and that earnings were not expected to grow in 2018.

G4S made a pre-tax profit of £143 million in 2018 compared with £387m the previous year.

On an underlying basis, pre-tax profits fell just 1.1% to £272m and revenue increased by 1.1% to £7.3bn.