Casual dining operator the Individual Restaurant Company (IRC) has warned that its full-year pre-tax profit would be at the lower end of market expectations.
In a pre-close trading update, the operator of the Piccolino and Restaurant Bar & Grill chains said that while sales in December were up 11% on the back of new openings, profits would be lower due to higher depreciation and interest charges.
The group, which operates 34 restaurants, added that its gross margins for 2009 would be under pressure as suppliers try to offset their rising costs due to a weak pound.
IRC warned that trading had become "gradually more difficult" and added that while there were no debt issues, 2009 will be "very tough" especially in the first half.
The company said it was not planning on extending its bank loans, which totalled £18.5m, with £2.7m unused at the year end.
IRC's annual results, for the 12 months to end-December, will be announced on 30 March.
Piccolino owner confident despite fears over eating out market>>
By Kerstin Kühn
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