The Restaurant Group eyes growth after Wagamama takeover

The Restaurant Group has hailed a “pivotal” year despite a drop in core sales, as it eyes growth opportunities following its multimillion-pound takeover of Wagamama.

Like-for-like sales, which excludes new openings and acquisitions, fell by 2% in the 52 weeks to December 30.

But the group said it had delivered comparable growth in the latter half of the year, since the World Cup.

Meanwhile, total sales, which include a record 21 new pubs and 21 new concessions as well as one week of trade from Wagamama, climbed 1%.

Shares in the company were trading more than 6.5% lower on Thursday morning.

The £559 million Wagamama deal formally completed on December 24, bringing almost 200 branches into The Restaurant Group’s portfolio.

Plans to integrate the business include converting some existing sites which currently operate under other brands into Wagamama branches.

Chief executive Andy McCue said the company is now poised for growth.

“2018 has been a pivotal year for the group in which we have opened a record number of new sites in both our pubs and concessions businesses as well as acquiring an extremely high-quality business in Wagamama,” he said.

“The enlarged business is now orientated strongly towards growth with a number of exciting opportunities ahead. We are focused on executing on our multi-pronged growth strategy and plans for the site conversions and cost synergies are progressing well.”

Profits are expected to be in line with market expectations.