Consumers are still eating out at weekends but are having second thoughts about going to restaurants during the week, the chief executive of The Restaurant Group (TRG) warned today.
Unveiling a trading update that revealed a 5% drop in like-for-like sales in the last seven weeks of the year, Andrew Page said the economy had taken a "twist downwards" from mid-November.
This meant that, while consumers were still eating out at weekends, they were being more cautious about going out for a meal midweek, he said.
Blubeckers, the pub restaurant brand based largely in the south-east of England was particularly badly affected, he said, although the group's other pub restaurants, based in the north-west, had performed well.
In the 52 weeks to December 28 like-for-like sales at TRG rose by 1.5%. Page said this was a "creditable performance" and added that the group still expected to meet market expectations when it releases annual results in early March.
The group, which also owns Frankie & Benny's and Chiquito, is generally more resilient than many other high-street operators as it runs 48 concessions, mainly in airports, which guarantee footfall.
During 2008, TRG opened 40 restaurants and closed 16, partly because of the opening of Heathrow's Terminal 5 and the redevelopment of Gatwick's South Terminal.
By Daniel Thomas
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