Frankie & Benny's staff fear for jobs as 33 restaurants to close

Frankie & Benny's is to close 33 under-performing restaurants.

Frankie & Benny's is to close 33 under-performing restaurants.

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Staff at North East branches of restaurant chain Frankie & Benny's are today fearing for their jobs after it was announced 33 under-performing sites are to close.

Its owner the Restaurant Group booked pre-tax losses of £22.5million for the first half of the year as it took a hit from a £59.1million exceptional charge linked to the store closures and writedowns.

The closures will affect up to 1,000 jobs, although it is understood that the company will redeploy the vast majority of staff in other outlets.

Like-for-like sales fell 3.9% as the group, which has issued a string of profit warnings, flagged a "challenging trading period".

Chairman Debbie Hewitt said: "The board has moved quickly to undertake a review of the operating strategy and we now have clarity on the issues facing our leisure brands, particularly Frankie & Benny's.

"The brand remains relevant and popular, and we are confident that improved performance will be achieved by being more customer-focused and data-driven, and through better operational execution."

The Restaurant Group admitted it has lost value-conscious customers at Frankie & Benny's after "significant price increases".

The firm pledged to "look at the pricing architecture of the menu" and "reinvigorate the value offer" in a bid to attract more families to its outlets.

The next phase of the review will look at stablemates Chiquito, Coast To Coast, Joe's Kitchen and Garfunkel's.

Earlier this month, the company ousted chief executive Danny Breithaupt, replacing him with the former boss of Paddy Power, Andy McCue.

Frankie & Benny's has a dozen restaurants in the region, in Sunderland, Washington, Boldon, Newcastle, Gateshead, Dalton Park, North Shields, Cramlington, Stockton and Middlesbrough.