Frankie & Benny's owner ‎to part company with finance chief

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The finance chief of the restaurant operator behind Garfunkel's and Frankie & Benny's is to step down less than a year into a turnaround plan prompted by a string of profit alerts.

Sky News has learnt that Barry Nightingale, a former finance director of the airline Monarch and the bookmaker Betfred, is to leave The Restaurant Group.

His departure is expected to be announced as early as Friday, a City source said.

The circumstances surrounding Mr Nightingale's exit were unclear, although a leisure analyst pointed out that he had been hired by the company prior to the arrival of Andy McCue, The Restaurant Group's new chief executive, late last year.

The departure of the finance chief will make Mr Nightingale the latest in a string of executives to leave the company in the last 12 months.

His predecessor, Stephen Critoph, was ousted after a prolonged period of poor financial performance, while Danny Breithaupt, the former chief executive, left in August.

Last month, The Restaurant Group, which operates nearly 500 sites across the UK‎, announced the outcome of a strategic review alongside a £39.5m loss for last year.

The company, which also owns the casual dining chains Chiquito and Coast to Coast‎, said it would cut prices and revive promotional activity aimed at reconnecting customers with Frankie & Benny's.

It has also hired a number of other executives, including a former colleague of the new chief executive during his time at Paddy Power (EUREX: 27913021.EX - news) .

Mr McCue warned that rising costs from business rates revaluations, the apprenticeship levy and the National. Living Wage would add significantly to The Restaurant Group's cost base from this year.

The Restaurant Group could not be reached for comment on Thursday.