Burger giant McDonald's claims its UK business is beginning to turn around, despite a 3.5% drop in sales last year.
Just-published figures for McDonald's Property Company, the chain's UK holding company, show that sales for the year to 31 December 2003 fell by £40m to £1.09b.
Operating profit fell by £5.5m to £144.5m, while pre-tax profit remained virtually unchanged at £118m.
The company said: "It has certainly been a challenging couple of years for McDonald's in the UK as the business has dealt with an explosion in competition and other issues.
"But in the last nine months the UK business has begun to follow the turnaround pattern that we've seen in places such as the US and Australia.
"In 2004 we are seeing positive sales momentum in our UK business and put this down to the increased choice on our menu, changes to popular menu items such as Chicken McNuggets, the investment we're making in restaurant refurbishments and the introduction of services such as Wi-Fi internet access."
Buy this week's Caterer magazine for more industry news and analysis