LONDON (Alliance News) - The Restaurant Group PLC delivered an upbeat set of first-half results on Friday, posting rises in pretax profit and revenue in the period, hiking its dividend and saying it remains on track to deliver another positive full year.
The restaurant operator said pretax profit in the 26 weeks to 29 June rose 12% to GBP33.7 million from GBP30.0 million a year earlier. That came on the back of a 10% rise in revenue in the period to GBP308 million, against GBP280 million last year, as like-for-like sales rose 2.5% and operating profit margins rose by 20 basis points.
The results prompted the group to hike its interim dividend by 16% to 6.1 pence per share, from 5.25 pence last year.
Restaurant Group also said the strong trading in the first half had continued into the second, with like-for-like sales growth in the 34 weeks to August 24 at 3.5%. The group did note, however, that June was the only month of slightly negative sales in the first six months of the year, as a result of the impact of the FIFA World Cup.
The group opened 17 new restaurants in the first six months of the year, with a further three opened since the end of June. The group said it anticipates opening between 38 and 43 new sites by the end of the year.
The group said revenue and profit rises were seen in all of its franchise lines in the first half, including Frankie & Benny's, Chiquito, Coast to Coast and in its pub restaurants. There was more muted performance in its Garfunkel's business, though the unit still delivered revenue and profit growth, and its said its Concessions arm performed strongly in the period.
Andrew Page, the outgoing chief executive of Restaurant Group, and his replacement, Danny Breithaupt, both hailed the performance of the company in the first half and expressed optimism for the remainder of the year. Page is stepping down at the end of this month.
Restaurant Group shares were slightly lower in early trade Friday, down 2.1% to 645.00 pence, after it received a downgrade from Numis. The broker said that despite the strong first-half results and outlook, it its forecasting lower pretax profit from the firm in the second half.