The Restaurant Group (TRG), owner of the Frankie and Benny’s and Chiquito brands, has this morning reported that its like-for-like sales increased 3.25% for the year to 1 January 2012, but said it expected trading conditions over the coming 12 months to be just as tough as those experienced last year. The group said that total sales for the eight weeks to 26 February increased by 3%, however like-for-like sales declined by 2% over the same period, which the group described as “solid current trading given the economic climate”. TRG said that it was well placed to “weather the more straitened economic conditions” with which UK consumer-facing businesses currently have to contend and, as conditions improve, was “very well positioned” to take advantage of the opportunities to further accelerate its growth. Turnover for the operator of the Garfunkel and Brunning & Price chains was up 7.25% on the previous year to £487m. Adjusted full-year EBITDA increased by 8% to £89.7m, while adjusted profit before tax climbed 12% to £60.3m. Adjusted operating profit margin increased by 10 basis points to 12.6%. As a result of this performance, the group recommended a final dividend of 6.5p per share giving a total for the year of 10.5p per share (2010: 9.00p), an increase of 17%. The group, which operates 400 restaurants and pub restaurants, opened 25 new sites during the year across all its brands, and expects to open a further 25-30 in 2012, with 14 to 18 anticipated to be new Frankie & Benny’s. The company closed 14 sites during the year, including three Frankie & Benny’s in Spain. It reported positive like-for-like sales growth and good levels of profits across all of its brands. The group highlighted its 50-strong concessions estate, which it said had “traded superbly” during the year. The group said that the performance of its new openings had been excellent and that its expectations in respect of returns on investment looked likely to be exceeded. During the year, TRG invested a total of £43.7m in capital expenditure (2010: £32.0m). £14.4m of this was spent on refurbishment and maintenance expenditure (2010: £11.3m). This included completion of the programme to reposition its ex-Blubeckers pubs to the Brunning & Price model. The group said that cost inflation in 2011 proved to be a “somewhat more significant issue than anticipated at the start of the year”, particularly on food and beverage costs where it saw average increases for the year of over 3%. It said that the outlook for the year in terms of cost inflation was “uncertain at this stage”, but thinks it is “unlikely” that food and beverage cost inflation will be any less than that experienced in 2011. Andrew Page, chief executive, said: “This was another year of good progress for TRG, with increases in revenues, margins and profits as we continued to strengthen our market position and to grow our business. “The performance of our recent years' openings has been outstanding and this bodes well for the future. Last year, we opened 25 new restaurants, creating more than 500 new jobs and this year we will open between 25 and 30 new restaurants. Our team was magnificent, showing great dedication and endeavour, and all of our people are determined to make 2012 another successful year.”