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Restaurant Group sees full-year results at the top of market expectations

In a trading update, the Restaurant Group (LSE: RTN) said it experienced strong like-for-like sales growth in the final six weeks of the year ended 27 December, reflecting a further strengthening in trading. Furthermore the group expects 2009 full year results, which are scheduled for release in March, to be well ahead of the top end of market forecasts.

As a result of the improved trading performance, full-year like-for-like sales are 2% behind 2008 compared with the previously reported 3% lag, which covered the 46 weeks to 15 November 2009. Additionally the company also said it has significantly lowered net debt compared with end of the 2008 financial year.

According to the FTSE250 restaurateur, the year-end run-in represents an encouraging improvement on the same period last year, albeit against softer comparatives. The group said it was a solid performance against a very challenging economic backdrop. Consumer spending has been pressured by the economic downturn. Despite the pressured trading environment, the company opened nineteen new restaurants during the year, with between fifteen and twenty further openings planned for 2010.

The Restaurant Group expects a continuation of he the challenging economic conditions going forward as it attempts to focus its efforts on delivering further profitable progress in 2010.

Disclosure: The author holds no positions in the company