Dozens of Frankie and Benny's and Chiquito restaurants to close under plans to try and stabilise parent business
The Restaurant Group said it is looking to exit a number of Chiquito and Frankie & Benny's sites to stabilise its long-term future after posting hefty losses.
The group, which also owns Wagamama, posted an £87.7 million pre-tax loss in the six months to June 30, falling from a £12.2 million profit in the previous year.
The dining business said it has earmarked 42 sites which it plans to exit, in addition to 76 Frankie and Benny's sites it identified earlier this year – the list of which restaurants are at risk has not been published.
The Hartlepool branch of Frankie & Benny’s has already closed.
There are Frankie & Benny’s in Boldon Colliery, the Arnison Centre in Durham, Gateshead town centre, Dalton Park in Murton, Manor Walks in Cramlington, Newcastle city centre, Silverlink in Wallsend and Teesside Retail Park in Stockton.
The Restaurant Group also has Chiquitos in Walkergate, Durham, the Metrocentre in Gateshead, Eldon Square in Newcastle and Teesside Park in Stockton.
The company has said there will not be immediate closures for those set to be shut down, but will largely involve allowing leases to run out at "unattractive" current locations, the group said.
Business leaders have said that uncertainty surrounding Brexit has contributed to the firm’s problems.
Debbie Hewitt, non-executive chairman of The Restaurant Group, said: "We continue to focus on improving our brand offerings and delivering the best possible experience to our customers whilst optimising our leisure business to enhance the overall group performance.
"Prevailing feeling is that uncertainty is having an impact on consumer sentiment but we believe we have a sufficiently strong set of brands.
"Regarding Brexit, the supply of food and labour are the two issues we want clarity on and are working to ensure we are as prepared as possible."
The half-year figures were the first results since the company appointed former HBOS chief Andy Hornsby as its new chief executive.
Mr Hornsby said: "I am delighted to have joined The Restaurant Group in August.
"Despite the well documented challenges facing the casual dining sector, the group's diversified set of brands provides firm foundations."