Shares in the Restaurant Group, which operates the Chiquito, Frankie & Benny's and Garfunkel's brands, saw a marked rise yesterday afternoon as news emerged of possible private equity interest in the company.
According to Sky News, Cinven, the previous owner of Ask and Zizzi pizza restaurants, TA Associates, owner of the Cath Kidston brand, and a number of other suitors, were believed to be exploring potential bids for the casual-dining group.
The Restaurant Group, which saw the departure of its chief financial officer Stephen Chritoph at the end of last month, has seen its shares squeezed from over 700p in November to below 300p at the end of last month. It had not experienced such lows since a succession of profit warnings in 2012.
Shares were trading at around 327p yesterday, giving the company a market capitalisation of just over £630m, Sky reported.
In a trading update published in April, the group said it had been affected by the structural and business challenges announced in March. For the 17 weeks to 24 April total sales were up 4.7%, but like-for-like sales were down 2.7%.
The Restaurant Group has been adversely impacted by the growth of online shopping, resulting in reduced footfall in the areas in which its outlets operate, compounded by a highly competitive mid-market restaurant sector, which has included the rise of food-led pubs.
The group, which operates more than 500 restaurants, has opened four outlets so far this year, with a further three expected to launch by the middle of the year.
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