Benihana’s comp sales growth slows

MIAMI Benihana Inc. said Tuesday that same-store sales across its three brands had increased 1.5 percent year-over-year for the third quarter ended Jan. 6, compared with a blended 9.3-percent gain for the year-ago period.

Same-store sales increased 2.7 percent at its flagship Benihana teppanyaki stores and 0.2 percent at its Haru sushi brand, but slid 3.6 percent at RA Sushi, the company said. For the year-ago period, the three brands posted same-store sales gains of 8.1 percent, 14.5 percent and 11.9 percent, respectively.

“While we faced formidable year-ago comparisons, we consider the sequential slowing in our overall sales and guest counts to be more reflective of the macro spending pressures rather than anything company specific,” chairman and chief executive Joel Schwartz said in a statement.

Total restaurant sales for the third fiscal quarter of 2008 increased 12.1 percent to $69.4 million, compared with $61.9 million in the same quarter of last year, the company said.

Benihana operates or franchises 102 Japanese restaurants under the Benihana, Haru and RA Sushi brands.