The Restaurant Group, which owns outlets including Caffe Uno, Frankie & Benny's and Garfunkels, has delivered a 28 per cent rise in 2004 underlying profit, beating market expectations.
The group also opened 29 new outlets across the UK. The company added that 2005 had started in "very encouraging" fashion.
Profit before tax and exceptional items climbed to £ 24 . 7 million from £19.25 million in 2003, on sales up 12 per cent to £255.4 million.
Underlying profit jumped 22 per cent to £14.9 million in the second half.
"Against a competitive background and some uncertainty regarding the sustainability of consumer spend, these results represent a very creditable performance," executive chairman Alan Jackson said in a statement.
He hailed strong like-forlike sales growth from existing restaurants, excellent returns from new restaurants, cost savings from purchasing initiatives and operational efficiencies and lower interest charges.
More effective buying practices had helped save around £200,000, helping in turn cushion the company from an increase in energy costs.
The group also said that discussions to acquire a controlling interest in Living Ventures, a rival British restaurant operator, were continuing.
Net profit rose to £15.1 million from £11.04 million in 2003 when the company incurred £1.63 million of exceptional charges and lost another £983,000 on the disposal of a business.
The company lifted its final dividend 16 per cent to 3.375 pence per share, the full-year payout rising 15.1 per cent to 4.2 pence.