The Restaurant Group, which is battling to complete its merger with Ask Central in the face of a potential rival pid from the owners of PizzaExpress, said this morning its full-year profits for 2003 will be at least 14.4% up on 2002 at £19.25m. Like-for-like sale for the full year would be 3% up on 2002, the company said. Current trading continues to be strong, with overall like-for-like sales up by 5% for the first four weeks of the new financial year and all its brands seeing like-for-like increases over this time last year. Restaurant Group said it was likely to see almost £1m in exceptional charges for 2003 after losses on the sale of property, up from just £50,000 in 2002. It was also having to charge to its accounts £450,000 in compensation and other costs for the departure of its chief executive, Andrew Guy, late last year. The company also revealed that its gross costs so far in the planned merger with Ask areestimated at £2.3m.