Troubled catering operator The Restaurant Group has started the process of closing 33 sites and has slowed its expansion programme in response to fierce competition in the mid-market casual dining sector.
The move follows the sudden resignation of chief executive Danny Breithaupt and his replacement by ex-Paddy Power CEO Andy McCue .
In a stock Exchange announcement chairman Debbie Hewitt said the company intends to exit 33 underperforming sites immediately as we do not believe that these sites are capable of generating adequate returns. These include 14 Frankie & Benny's sites, 11 Chiquito sites and eight other sites. In addition the company has decided to write down the asset value of a further 29 sites.
And expansion plans are being reined back. The group now expects to open 24 to 28 new sites in 2016 down from 44in 2015. And the target for openings in 2017 has been scaled back to around 30 restaurants.
Hewitt said: "This has been a challenging trading period for our leisure brands. The board has moved quickly to undertake a review of the operating strategy and we now have clarity on the issues facing our leisure brands, particularly Frankie & Benny's. The brand remains relevant and popular and we are confident that improved performance will be achieved by being more customer-focussed and data-driven, and through better operational execution."