Restaurant Group hit by Bond effect

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FRANKIE & Benny’s owner The Restaurant Group has suffered a slowdown in sales growth after battling against tough comparisons from a year earlier when hungry James Bond cinema audiences swelled takings.

The group said like-for-like sales were up 3.5 per cent in the 45 weeks to November 10, lower than the 5 per cent increase in the first half.

Analysts at Numis Securities said the figures implied that growth fell to 1.5 per cent since the half year, which also included a period hit by the summer heatwave.

But the company said it was still on course to open up to 35 new restaurants during 2013 and expected a greater expansion next year.

Performance in recent weeks has suffered by comparison with the same period last year when the latest James Bond film Skyfall was in cinemas, becoming the highest grossing movie in UK box office history.

Cinemagoers represent a key audience for the firm at its outlets in leisure parks. It said: “The group has traded well, with like-for-like sales growth in both September and October.

“Although like-for-like comparatives are much tougher during November, we are confident that the business will continue to make good progress during the remainder of the year and we are on track to meet expectations for the full year.”

Restaurant Group, which also owns the Chiquito’s and Garfunkel’s brands, said in a previous statement that sales growth had slowed in July amid the heatwave, although it had picked up during August.

The company operates around 400 sites across the UK.