Restaurant Group, owner of the Garfunkel’s and Frankie & Benny’s chains, has ousted Barry Nightingale, its chief financial officer after less than a year in the job, with a person close to the company saying it was now “seeking to appoint someone with a different skills set”
The company said in a statement Mr Nightingale, who was only appointed in June, was leaving with immediate effect, while the board has commenced a search for a new CFO and would update the market in due course. His exit comes almost exactly a year after the departure of his predecessor Stephen Critoph last April.
Mr Nightingale, an experienced CFO who served stints at Monarch Airlines and Betfred, was considered a turnround specialist. But tensions emerged when Andy McCue joined Restaurant Group as its new chief executive in September.
A person close to the company insisted there was no falling out, but added “Barry’s skills were in heavy lifting, in turnrounds. That phase at Restaurant Group is now over”.
Last year Restaurant Group embarked on a review of its operations resulting in exceptional charges of £116.7m, after site closures, asset writedowns and increased lease provisions.
As a result the company reported a pre-tax loss of £39.5m for the 12 months to January 1 2017, after profits of £59.1m the previous year.
Mr McCue said when announcing results in March:
There is much to change in our leisure businesses to provide customers with better value and an improved experience while, at the same time, ensuring we continue to grow our Pubs and Concessions businesses. It will take time to effect the scale of change required and for customers to respond.
Restaurant Group, which also runs the Mexican themed Chiquito chain, said in January its problems were “due to insufficient focus on value, unsuccessful menu development and poor operational execution”, but said increased competition had not been a major factor behind the weak performance.
As well as internal difficulties, the company said it expected rising costs with the increase in the minimum wage, the apprenticeship levy, the hike in business rates, higher energy taxes and input inflation prompted by a weaker pound.