Wagamama owner The Restaurant Group swallows £15m November lockdown hit

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Wagamama and Frankie & Benny’s owner The Restaurant Group (TRG) has said the second English lockdown in November cost the company £15 million, as it was forced to shut the doors of its sites.

The group said it expects the first quarter of 2021 to be “extremely challenging” amid current tiered restrictions.

It said the latest restrictions mean it will have 145 sites where customers can dine in across the UK, 142 sites which will provide delivery and takeaway services only, with another 103 restaurants closed.

TRG said this is “significantly worse” than when the initial tiering restrictions came into effect in October.

Frankie & Benny's
A raft of Frankie & Benny’s sites were shut following a CVA in June (Mike Egerton/PA)

The move particularly affected its Frankie & Benny’s sites, but also its smaller Garfunkel’s and Coast-to-Coast chains.

TRG has been buoyed by the continued strength of the Wagamama pan-Asian brand it bought for £559 million in 2018.

Earlier this week, Wagamama said like-for-like sales increased by 7.4% in the quarter to September 27 as demand was buoyed by the Eat Out to Help Out scheme in August.

TRG said it has been “encouraged” by the progress regarding the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine and is hopeful this can help support its recovery next year.

In a statement, the company said: “The board believes the group is well positioned to benefit from a sustained removal of restrictions given its previous strong trading performance following the first lockdown.

“We therefore expect a strong recovery when there is a return to more normal levels of customer activity.

“The timing of that will depend primarily on government restrictions being eased.”

Shares in the company were 4.3% lower at 64.45p in early trading.

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