Restaurant and pub restaurant operator The Restaurant Group, says it plans to open up to another 20 sites in the UK next year, despite expecting trading conditions to remain tough in 2010.
In an interim management statement for the 46 weeks to 15 November, the Frankie & Benny's owner said it had continued to trade 'in-line with expectations' with like-for-like sales compared to the same period last year down 3 per cent while turnover rose 4 per cent.
The company, which also operates the Blubeckers, Brunning & Price, Chiquito and Garfunkel's brands, has opened 17 new sites so far this year, mostly at leisure complexes and airports and hopes to open another three by the end of the year.
Half of the new restaurants scheduled to open in 2010 will be Frankie & Benny's and up to five will be opened under the Chiquito brand with the rest made up of a mix of the pub restaurants and Garfunkels.
"Whilst we have not, as yet, seen a significant level of planned new development activity in the property market for 2010 and 2011, we continue to focus our attention on securing sites which will make significant returns," the company said in a statement.
TRG admitted that 2009 had been a challenging year, but said it had not resorted to using deep discounting to help pull it through, instead relying on 'value-for-money offerings and high standards of hospitality and service' to enable it to survive.
The company said: "Looking forward to 2010, we expect conditions to remain tough for our sector with pressures on consumer spending, including tax rises, fuel price increases and the threat of higher unemployment levels. However, we believe our distinct market positioning with strong brands, experienced and motivated teams, our focus on delivering consistently excellent levels of service and hospitality with great value-for-money offerings will enable the Group to continue its profitable development."