Wagamama owner sees earnings at top end of forecast despite Omicron hit

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Jan 21 (Reuters) – Restaurant Group said on Friday it expects full-year profit at the top end of its expectations, helped by cost cuts, even as sales growth at its Wagamama chains slowed in December due to the Omicron variant-related restrictions.

The company, which runs restaurant chains and grub kiosks in travel hubs, said restrictions in Britain, dubbed “Plan B” measures, had dampened consumer confidence and piled pressure on the hospitality and travel sector, adding that confidence will take longer to recover.

The measures, which included increased testing requirements for international travel and calls to restrict socialising, were scrapped this week as Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to avoid lockdowns after a peak in cases caused by the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

Restaurant Group said adjusted core profit would come in at the top end of its projection range of 73 million pounds to 79 million pounds ($107.37 million).

It also said like-for-like December sales across its leisure, concessions and pub categories fell compared to 2019 levels. Sales at its Wagamama chains grew 1% in December, from 8% in November and 11% in October.

($1 = 0.7358 pounds)

(Reporting by Muhammed Husain in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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