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Plans to shut 90 Frankie & Benny’s, Coast to Coast and Chiquito restaurants ‘accelerated’

PUBLISHED: 10:52 26 February 2020 | UPDATED: 14:38 27 February 2020

Frankie & Bennys, Wagamama and Chiquito has said it is accelerating closure plans to shut up to 90 restaurants. Picture: Archant

Frankie & Bennys, Wagamama and Chiquito has said it is accelerating closure plans to shut up to 90 restaurants. Picture: Archant

Archant

The owner of chain restaurants including Frankie & Benny’s, Wagamama and Chiquito has said it is “accelerating” closure plans, to shut up to 90 restaurants by the end of next year.

Chiquito Mexican grill at Riverside. Photo: Bill SmithChiquito Mexican grill at Riverside. Photo: Bill Smith

The Restaurant Group, which also owns Coast to Coast, announced today that is "accelerating the reduction of its estate" to reach 260 sites by 2021.

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

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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.

The news spells potential trouble for Norfolk, as the Restaurant Group has three Frankie & Benny's sites in Norwich, Great Yarmouth and King's Lynn.

Norwich's Riverside retail park also hosts Mexican restaurant Chiquito, and Coast to Coast.

Wagamamas has one site in Norwich's intu Chapelfield - though none of the sites in the Japanese restaurant chain are under threat.

The Restaurant Group made an initial announcement in September that it was looking to reduce its portfolio by 100 sites.

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However, the company did not give details about how or when these closures would occur.

The group already moved out of 18 sites in 2019.

Andy Hornby, chief executive, said the decision had been made in response to the decline in the casual dining sector.

He said: "I am 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."

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

During the announcement TRG also reported like-for-like sales growth of 2.7% for the year to December.

The group saw total sales soar 56.4% 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% increase in like-for-like sales over the period.


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