Frankie & Benny’s, Chiquito and Garfunkel’s owner plans to create 600 new jobs

THE owner of the Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito restaurant chains said today it planned to create another 600 new jobs this year following a successful expansion drive.

The Restaurant Group, which currently has around 400 outlets, said the 25 sites it opened in 2011 under a �29million investment programme were producing returns ahead of target – offering encouragement for new openings this year.

It intends to unveil between 25 and 30 restaurants in 2012, creating 600 jobs in the process, as the chain continues to defy the tough trading conditions.

Revenues grew by more than 7% to �487.1million last year and pre-tax profits were up 11.7% at �60.3m, with many of its sites being located at out of town retail parks where footfall has been more resilient than in town centres.

In addition, many of its 200-plus Frankie & Benny’s outlets are situated near cinemas, with movies continuing to be seen as an affordable treat even in tough times.

Besides the American-Italian themed Frankie & Benn’s chain, which includes sites in Ipswich, Colchester, Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill, Braintree and Chelmsford, and the Mexican-style Chiquito brand, the group also owns the Garfunkel’s restaurants, mainly based in London, and a portfolio of unbranded pub-restaurants around the country.

Chief executive Andrew Page said: “This was another year of good progress for The Restaurant Group, with increases in revenues, margins and profits as we continued to strengthen our market position and to grow our business.

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“The performance of our recent years’ openings has been outstanding and this bodes well for the future. Last year, we opened 25 new restaurants, creating more than 500 new jobs and this year we will open between 25 and 30 new restaurants. Our team was magnificent, showing great dedication and endeavour, and all of our people are determined to make 2012 another successful year.”

The Restaurant Group added that total sales were up 3% so far during 2012, although the figure was 2% lower on a like-for-like basis.

Chairman Alan Jackson said: “We have a superb business with distinct market positions and strong brands with outstanding value-for-money offerings.”