The Restaurant Group (TRG) has reported like-for-like sales for the 20 weeks to 20 May down 4.3%, with total sales falling 3.1%.

Excluding the impact of snow, the company said like-for-like sales for the period would have decreased 3.1%.

In the first seven weeks of the second quarter like-for-like sales declined 1.8% as the group began to lap the significant price investments made last year.

Ahead of the company’s AGM today, chairman Debbie Hewitt said: “Our strategic initiatives are driving improved performance in our Leisure business in a market in which like-for-like sales remain challenging.”

During the first 20 weeks of the year, the group opened nine new units and the pipeline of new openings within the Brunning & Price pubs arm was strengthened with the acquisition of four pubs from Ribble Valley Inns, as reported yesterday.

Including this package the group now expects to open around 10 pubs this year. Hewitt said strong progress has been made in the Concessions business with expansion into new travel hubs, with the group now expecting to open at least 12 new concession sites this year.

TRG exited a further five closed sites in 2018 bringing the number of sites exited to 26 out of 41 closed sites.

On the outlook, Hewitt said: “We are comfortable with the performance in the first 20 weeks of the current financial year and expect to see further benefit from our strategic initiatives as the year progresses. We expect to deliver results for the full year in-line with current market expectations.”

Yesterday, TRG Concessions announced it had been appointed lead food and beverage provider at London Southend Airport in June 2018. Existing outlets at the airport include Arnold Forbes and Lakers brands, which were previously operated directly by the airport. While the company will operate and develop the existing catering concessions, it will also introduce new concepts in 2018 including a bespoke pub concept The Navigator, Giraffe Stop and Costa Coffee. During the course of the contract, TRG Concessions will introduce further high street brands.

The takeover is part of TRG’s investment of £5m+ to develop the food and beverage offer at London Southend Airport over the next 10 years.