Frankie & Benny’s owner The Restaurant Group to close 33 sites including Chiquito in Chelmsford

The owner of Frankie & Benny's is to review its offer in a bid to win back trade lost following pric

The owner of Frankie & Benny's is to review its offer in a bid to win back trade lost following price rises. - Credit: Archant � 2005

The struggling owner of restaurant chains Frankie & Benny’s and Garfunkel’s is to close 33 under-performing sites after posting a loss for the first of the year.

The Restaurant Group booked a pre-tax loss of £22.5m for the six months to the end of June as it took a hit from a £59.1m exceptional charge linked to the closures and writedowns in the value of other properties.

The store closures will affect up to 1,000 jobs, although the company says it will redeploy the vast majority, either at existing sites or at a bnumber of new outlets it plans to open by the end of the year. Among the restaurants due to close is Chiquito in Chelmsford.

Like-for-like sales fell 3.9% during the first half as the group, which has issued a string of profit warnings, flagged a “challenging trading period”.

Chairman Debbie Hewitt said: “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-focused and data-driven, and through better operational execution.”

The Restaurant Group admitted it has lost value-conscious customers at Frankie & Benny’s after “significant price increases”. The firm pledged to “look at the pricing architecture of the menu” and “reinvigorate the value offer” in a bid to attract more families to its outlets.

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The next phase of the review will look at stablemates Chiquito, Coast To Coast, Joe’s Kitchen and Garfunkel’s.

Earlier this month, the company ousted chief executive Danny Breithaupt, replacing him with the former boss of Paddy Power, Andy McCue.