The Restaurant Group chief executive, Danny Breithaupt, has detailed some of the changes being made to Frankie & Bennys to halt its declining like-for-like sales, including the appointment of a new managing director.
Speaking to analysts following this morning’s update to the market, Breithaupt said that the pubs and concessions side of the businesses continued to see growth, although refused to break down like-for-like performances or to elaborate on how far brands such as Coast to Coast are eating into Frankie & Bennys sales.
He refused to discuss the full extent of the like-for-like slide at Frankie & Bennys in the face of speculation from Cenkos’ Simon French that it might be a double-digit dip.
He listed four things that were being done to halt the decline at Frankie & Bennys:
“Through our bar reduction programme we are creating more covers. We’ve done 13 in the past few months, adding an average of 25 covers per site. These sites have resulted in good like-for-like improvement against previous trends. We expect to do at least 50 of those, with the bulk to do most this year. We have the scope to do more and if we continue to see good results we will look at doing more.
“Because of this we expect our maintenance capex to be up in the range of £30-£35m, up from previous guidance of c£25m.
“We have introduced a new lunch and breakfast menu. They have been in Frankies now for a few months and we are seeing improvement across both of those dayparts. We are putting in a new main and dessert menu in the middle of May and expect to see some progress from those.
“The app that we put in November is still gathering momentum. We’ve had 500,000 download so far, which is significantly ahead of what we expected. The redemption rate on voucher issued through that app is very good.
“We have appointed a new experienced operator to take over as managing director of Frankie and Bennys and they will take over the running of the brand in June. “
He said the company was committed to its target of opening at least 30 sites in this financial year and that while one was in a pure retail location the focus would be on mixed-use, pubs and concessions.
Asked for the rationale behind chief financial officer Stephen Critoph’s departure, Breithaupt said: “It was time to refresh the board.”