Following The Restaurant Group’s first-half results announcement MCA caught up with Andy Hornby, chief executive, to discuss recent trading.

Hornby was keen to accentuate the positive nature of trading seen at TRG during the 15 weeks to August 29, the period from which indoor dining has been allowed once more. Yet delivery continues to play a significant role in the group’s performance. 

“Without sounding in any way overconfident I think what pleases me is two things,” he began. “One is that all three divisions are over +10% above the market and secondly while its great that our Wagamama and pubs businesses are performing well, our leisure division is also now showing very strong like-for-like growth.”

The leisure business which focuses on casual dining brands such as Frankie and Benny’s and Chiquitos has struggled over the last two years, but recent positive performance has been driven by a strong restaurant market outside of London which has benefited from high consumer savings, a 15% VAT cut and a strong staycation market.

Hornby went on to explain that while Wagamama’s has clearly benefited from delivery as a growth driver, so too had brands such as Frankie and Benny’s, “it’s been a sort of icing on the cake, really,” he said.

When asked how much delivery and takeout can grow within TRG, Hornby responded: “I think it’s hard to be Nostradamus, and to guess precisely, but if you take delivery and takeout as a whole I think 25 to 30% is the right long term number for Wagamama, it is never going to go back to 10%. This is a structural shift where around a quarter of sales will be delivery and takeout.”

“Within leisure, the delivery mix used to be tiny, only 4%. It is now 12%. Virtual brands are having a big impact and account for about half of all delivery. My guess would be that around 20% would be a logical long-term position for leisure.”