Restaurant group La Tasca is looking for a strong performance across its estate during Christmas to off-set the negative effect of June's football World Cup.
A weaker performance during the World Cup reduced like-for-like sales growth at the group's 66 UK restaurants to 1% in the six months to 29 October.
Stripping out the effect of June's football tournament, like-for-like sales were 2.6% higher than last year.
La Tasca chief executive James Horler said that coupled with a good performance from the core estate, he had been impressed with the success of the La Tasca brand in London, where the group now has seven sites.
The group, which opened six restaurants in the first half of the year including one La Tasca in Alexandria, Virginia, in the USA, plans to open six more in the second half with two in London.
A fifth US restaurant is due to open in Rockville, Maryland, in April 2007.
"During the first half, the core La Tasca brand has continued to perform well, with the exception of the World Cup," said Horler.
After nine years with the group, finance director Martin Evans is stepping down from his role at the end of the year. He will be replaced by Matthew Powell in January, who has been finance controller with the company since 2002.
Results for the six months to 29 October
- Turnover up 19.5% to £32.2m (2005: £27m)
- Pre-tax profit up 4.8% to £2.2m (2005: £2.1m)
- Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation up 15.4% to £4.6m (2005: £4m)
By Chris Druce