January 25, 2018 / 8:10 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-UK's Restaurant Group sees volume boost after fall in 2017 sales

(Adds details on sales, strategy)

Jan 25 (Reuters) - Restaurant Group Plc posted a 3 percent fall in 2017 comparable sales on Thursday as Britons spent less on eating and drinking out, but the owner of the Frankie & Benny’s chain said its latest measures to boost volumes had started showing results.

Shares in the company were up 3.6 percent at 273.6 pence at 0803 GMT.

In the face of slowing sales, the company has rolled out menus, added value meal options, cut prices on several items and included more options targeted at families.

The company, which also owns brands such as Garfunkel’s and Coast To Coast, said these changes “progressively improved volume momentum” in 2017 adding that its expectations for 2018 sales trajectory remained “broadly unchanged”.

Rising competition from food-focused pubs in recent years and a drop in visitors to retail shopping parks, where many of its outlets are located, has hit store footfall of Restaurant Group’s brands.

The owner and operator of more than 500 restaurants and pubs in the UK said like-for-like sales for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 31 were down 3 percent with total sales falling 1.8 percent.

The trend has been echoed by other operators in the sector as well including FTSE-100 leisure giant Whitbread.

However, Restaurant Group said it expected pretax profit for 2017 to be in line with market expectations. (Reporting by Rahul B in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Gopakumar Warrier)

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