LONDON May 10 Britain's Restaurant Group
said it had the best new site pipeline in years after
reporting rising organic sales and margins in the first 19 weeks
of the year, sending its shares to an all time high on
The chain, which owns over 400 restaurants and pubs in
Britain, said it expected to open at least 30 new sites this
year, the majority of which will be Frankie & Benny's
restaurants, and has more openings planned for 2014.
Adding to its portfolio of American-style eateries,
Restaurant Group's new Coast to Coast restaurants also performed
particularly well, it said.
Total sales rose by 11 percent and like-for-like sales by 4.5
percent over the first 19 weeks of 2013 compared with the same
period last year.
"This is a slightly stronger performance than we anticipated
and the group is on track to report a very satisfactory H1
performance," said Panmure's Simon French in a note.
Restaurant Group's shares were up 4 percent in early trading
to an all time high at 500.50 pence, marking an increase of over
27 percent since the beginning of the year and valuing the
company at 979.46 million pounds ($1.49 billion).
It expects to pay a full-year dividend for the year to the
end of December of 11.8 pence per share, representing a
Canaccord analyst Wayne Brown said the company was now at an
inflection point in terms of the amount of cash it is
generating, prompting him to ask whether the group could
consider a special dividend or share by back.
"The group is benefiting from the structural dynamics that
are favourable in terms of the shift away from the High Street
to out-of-town Leisure and Retail parks," he said. "Restaurant
Group remains best positioned to take advantage of this trend."