Upmarket restaurant chain Groupe Chez Gerard has blamed the terrorist attacks on the US for the calling of a temporary halving of its UK expansion programme and a cut in its dividend.

CEO David Williams is quoted in the Birmingham Post newspaper as saying: “We have decided to cut back on our opening programme and re-base the dividend and propose to pay the same amount in the final as we did in the interim.

“We do see huge uncertainty in the market going forward in the short-term and have taken this action to conserve cash.”

Chez Gerard, which also controls the Livebait and Bertorelli’s chain, posted a fall in like-for-like sales for the year to 1 July. Williams said that these problems were largely caused by the effects of the foot and mouth crisis on tourism and the total dividend has been slashed to 2.80p a share from 4.45p.

Williams added that Chez Gerard hoped to save £2.4m (US$3.53m) by scaling down new openings from 12 to six outlets,

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“Since the start of the new financial year we have opened three, in Oxford, Cambridge and Leeds,” he revealed: “From now on we will be developing a second Chez Gerard at Gatwick North, one in the City of London and one in Birmingham.”

When the three new sites are opened, Chez Gerard will control 30 outlets.