FRANKIE & Benny’s owner Restaurant Group today reported a 2% hike in annual profits thanks in part to a Christmas boost from the success of blockbuster movie Avatar.
Cinema-goers flocking to see James Cameron’s 3D fantasy increased footfall at its 200 or so restaurants based at leisure parks, leading to strong like-for-like sales growth towards the end of 2009.
Restaurant Group - whose portfolio also includes Garfunkel’s and Chiquito - said comparable sales remained in positive territory for the first nine weeks of the new financial year, ahead 1%.
This showed a small decline on the levels seen at the end of 2009 as the adverse weather impacted 11 of 63 trading days, according to the firm.
But it said the snow chaos provided some benefit for its airport sites - around 50 concessions - as holed-up travellers sought refuge in restaurants and shops.
The group reported underlying pre-tax profits of £50 million for the year to December 27.
Restaurant Group also confirmed plans to continue opening new sites, with 15 to 25 set to open this year, although the firm said this was a lower than normal schedule due to the ongoing economic uncertainty.