The Restaurant Group says it is in `good shape` for 2009 after seeing pre-tax profits rise 13 per cent in 2008.
Preliminary results for the Frankie & Benny`s and Chiquito`s owner show that like-for-like sales were up 1.5 per cent for the year ending December 28 across its 354 restaurants and pub restaurants.
TRG chief executive Andrew Page said: "The combination of our distinct market positioning, strong brands, keen focus on margins and an outstanding team have enabled TRG to deliver another year of good progress. We asked a lot of our people in 2008 and they responded magnificently. I would like to record my thanks and appreciation to all of them."
The company, which also owns the Garfunkels, Blubeckers and Brunning & Price brands, opened 40 new restaurants last year, but chairman Alan Jackson said it would be slowing down its roll out this year in line with the economic outlook.
He said: "The credit crunch and a deterioration in the retail marketplace has resulted in many of our potential landlords delaying new development projects and this has particularly impacted the edge and out of town leisure and retail parks market. Consequently, we now anticipate that we will open between 15 and 20 new restaurants during 2009.
"Whilst this is less than we had previously anticipated, it enables the Group to retain more of its cashflow which can, if appropriate, be deployed at a later stage to pursue fresh opportunities within our chosen market segments."
Page said although the company is not immune to the current economic climate - like-for-like sales were down 2.5 per cent for the first nine weeks of 2009 - it is well equipped to weather the recession.
He said: "The Group is in good shape with strong cashflows and, having eschewed
the trend in recent years of replacing permanent capital with bank debt, we are well placed to
weather the recession and take advantage of opportunities to add new restaurants within our
selected market segments.”