Frankie & Benny's owner The Restaurant Group (TRG) has seen like-for-like sales for the first nine weeks of 2009 slide 2.5%.
Despite this, the company, which also owns the Chiquito and Garfunkels chains, said it was confident it was well positioned to weather the recession, but warned that 2009 would be a challenging year.
TRG added that it plans to open between 15 and 20 new outlets this year including up to five at airport sites.
The update came as the company, which operates 354 restaurants in the UK, posted pre-tax profits of £48.9m for 2008, up 13% on a year earlier.
TRG opened 40 new sites during 2008 and reported 1.5% growth in like-for-like sales.
Chief executive Andrew Page said that against a difficult economic backdrop, 2009 had started well and the group was in good shape with strong cash-flow.
"Having eschewed the trend in recent years of replacing permanent capital with bank debt, we are well placed to weather the recession and take advantage of opportunities to add new restaurants within our selected market segments," he said.
By Kerstin Kühn
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