A leading restaurant operator is to open as many as 35 new sites this year after its Frankie & Benny's chain "performed superbly" during 2012.
The Restaurant Group, whose other brands include Chiquito, Garfunkel's and Coast to Coast, said overall like-for-like sales were up 4.5% last year as pre-tax profits improved 7% to £64.6 million.
It created 700 jobs in the period after opening 28 new sites and said it was targeting between 28 and 35 additional locations this year.
With many of its sites located next to cinemas, it has benefited from a strong line-up of film releases, especially the James Bond thriller Skyfall.
Frankie & Benny's trades from 217 sites and is expected to expand by between another 13 and 17 outlets this year, having seen strong profits growth across 2012.
It said: "The enduring appeal and consistent success of the Frankie & Benny's brand gives us a great deal of confidence that the ongoing roll out potential for this brand is significant."
The company added that this year has started well, with like-for-like sales for the group up by 6.5% on a year earlier.
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- 3. PPI scam
<span style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 12pt;">As if the mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI) wasn't scandal enough, 2012 has seen fraudsters preying on PPI victims. Consumers have received phone calls from someone who knows their name, announcing that they have won their PPI claim. The caller may also know the lender's name and an estimate of the loan amount.</span></p>
<span style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 12pt;">However, the caller will then request a payment from the consumer in order to receive their compensation. This should signal warning bells, but many innocent victims have fallen for the scam and parted with money only for the bogus firm to disappear with their cash, and of course the compensation that never existed.</span></p>
Consumers should be wary of all cold calls, particularly those that request cash upfront. There is no need to pay to make a claim for mis-sold PPI – you can claim direct to your bank for free and receive free advice from debt charities like Citizens Advice and the Consumer Credit Counselling Service.</p>
<span style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 12pt;">If you do choose to take on the assistance of a claims management firm – never agree to an upfront payment. Reputable firms will only request payment for their services once you have received your compensation from your lender either by cheque or by payment into your bank account.</span></p>
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