Norwich Riverside restaurant chain takes cinema hit

Chiquito in Riverside. Photo: Simon Finlay Copy: For: EEN News EDP pics © 2008 (01603) 772434

Chiquito in Riverside. Photo: Simon Finlay Copy: For: EEN News EDP pics © 2008 (01603) 772434 - Credit: Archant © 2008

Frankie & Benny's owner The Restaurant Group has suffered a slowdown in sales growth after battling against tough comparisons from a year earlier when hungry James Bond cinema audiences swelled takings.

Coast to Coast, Riverside, Norwich.

Coast to Coast, Riverside, Norwich. - Credit: Archant

The group, which owns the Frankie and Benny's, Coast to Coast and Chiquito's restaurants at Norwich's Riverside leisure complex, said like-for-like sales were up 3.5pc in the 45 weeks to November 10, lower than the 5pc increase in the first half.

Analysts at Numis Securities said the figures implied that growth fell to 1.5pc since the half year, which also included a period hit by the summer heat wave.

But the company said it was still on course to open up to 35 new restaurants during 2013 and expected a greater expansion next year.

Performance in recent weeks has suffered by comparison with the same period last year when the latest James Bond film Skyfall was in cinemas, becoming the highest grossing movie in UK box office history.

Cinema goers represent a key audience for the firm at its outlets in leisure parks.

It said: 'The group has traded well, with like-for-like sales growth in both September and October.

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'Although like-for-like comparatives are much tougher during November, we are confident that the business will continue to make good progress during the remainder of the year and we are on track to meet expectations for the full year.'

Restaurant Group, which also owns the Chiquito's and Garfunkel's brands, said in a previous statement that sales growth had slowed in July amid the heat wave, although it had picked up during August.

The company operates around 400 restaurants and pub restaurants across the UK.

Profits before tax for the first half grew 15pc to £30 million.

Analysts at Numis said like-for-like sales growth of 1.5pc over the latest period was a 'reasonable outcome' given that half the group's restaurants were next to cinemas, where attendance fell over the period.