February 26, 2014 / 8:36 AM / 3 years ago

Restaurant Group upbeat on 2014 as profits rise

2 Min Read

LONDON, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Britain's Restaurant Group , whose chains include Frankie & Benny's and Chiquito, said trading in the new year had started well, as it posted a rise in 2013 profit helped by new openings.

The group, which owns over 400 pubs and restaurants mainly in airports, leisure and retail outlets, said on Wednesday its annual pretax profit rose 13 percent to 72.7 million pounds versus analysts forecasts of 72.1 million.

Revenue grew 9 percent to 580 million pounds and was up 3.5 percent excluding the impact of new outlets. Its operating margin increased 40 basis points to 12.9 percent.

"With the UK economy showing improvement, employment levels rising and inflation falling, there are good prospects for an improvement in household finances," Chief Executive Andrew Page said in a statement. "This bodes well for our sector."

The company said like-for-like sales for the eight weeks to Feb. 23 were 3.5 percent ahead of the previous year.

Page announced last month that he would retire in August after 12 years with the firm, during which time the company's market value has grown from 75 million pounds to 1.3 billion.

The firm, which said a search for Page's successor was ongoing, wants to open between 36 and 43 new restaurants this year, up from 35 in 2013.

Shares in Restaurant Group closed at 654.5 pence on Tuesday, up 65 percent on a year earlier.

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