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Shares in Fridays owner Hostmore tumble as chief resigns

The chief executive of Fridays owner Hostmore has resigned amid muted sales growth at the hospitality firm.

Shares in the company plunged after Robert B Cook stepped down from his role as chief with immediate effect.

Julie McEwan, who is currently chief operating officer at Fridays, has been appointed as interim chief executive.

The group runs 91 sites across the Fridays – which recently rebranded from TGI Fridays – and 63rd+1st brands.

The firm’s board said it launched a search process, which will consider internal and external candidates, to find the new chief executive.

Mr Cook said: “I wish to extend my sincere gratitude and thanks to the board and the executive team for their support in my three years at the helm, and, most importantly, to thank all the team in the restaurants who pull on the red and white stripes every day and do such a sterling job for the brand.”

Gavin Manson, chairman of Hostmore, said: “On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Robert for his efforts as CEO over the past three years, particularly in steering the business through the Covid pandemic and in rebuilding the executive team, and we wish him well for the future.

“We are pleased that Julie has accepted the role of interim CEO, given her strong sector experience and operational strengths.

“Together, we look forward to focusing on the group’s priorities and building on its strengths in the weeks and months ahead.”

On Tuesday, the business also told investors that it recorded revenues of £21.3 million in December, edging marginally higher than the £21.2 million it posted over the same month last year.

The group said like-for-like revenues were marginally lower compared with December last year once a temporary reduction in VAT following the pandemic was taken into account.

Hostmore also confirmed that revenues for the 26 weeks to January 1 were 14% below pre-pandemic levels from 2019, amid the impact of the Queen’s funeral, national rail strikes, the football World Cup and “unseasonably cold weather”.

Shares in the firm were 12.6% lower at 12.25p on Tuesday afternoon.