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MARYVILLE, TN-The Ruby Tuesday restaurant chain plans to open approximately 30 company-owned locations in the 2008 fiscal year and 30 to 35 franchise restaurants, Ruby Tuesday officials said Wednesday during a conference call to discuss financial results for the third quarter that ended March 6. Besides outlining plans for fiscal 2008, the company said that it is on track to open 45 corporate and 25 to 30 franchised locations for the 2007 fiscal year. Ruby Tuesday has already opened 38 new locations, has acquired 28 restaurants from Florida franchisees, has closed 10 restaurants and has sold or leased seven restaurants thus far this year. The figures include six new locations that the company opened during the third quarter, in which it also acquired 11 restaurants from its South Florida franchisee.

Aside from the restaurants that Ruby Tuesday has bought or sold this year, its domestic and international franchisees have opened 20 new locations and have closed two this year. The openings and closings are part of an overall Ruby Tuesday corporate strategy designed to improve the quality and image of the company’s operations. Another part of that strategy is an “aggressive remodeling program” that it plans to launch in the 2008 fiscal year.

Ruby Tuesday outlined its growth plans and its key strategic initiatives during the conference call, in which the company reported diluted earnings per share of 49 cents on net income of $28.7 million, compared to diluted earnings per share of 50 cents on net income of $30.2 million for the third quarter of the previous year. The earnings reflected one-time charges that reduced net income by eight cents per share, two cents of it coming from a “share-based payment” charge and six cents of it resulting from a lease-related charge associated with the bankruptcy of Specialty Restaurant Group.

Same-restaurant sales for the third quarter decreased 1% and increased 1.8% at company-owned and domestic franchise Ruby Tuesday restaurants, respectively, as compared to same-restaurant sales increases of 4.7% and 5.4%, respectively, in the third quarter of the previous. The company blamed bad winter weather for a portion of the slip in same-store performance. Total sales climbed to $378 million for the quarter versus $339 million in last year’s third quarter.

Sandy Beall, founder and CEO of Ruby Tuesday, called it overall “a good quarter,” saying that while the financial results were “not great” they were “reasonably good as compared to our competitors and our very positive same-restaurant sales last year.” In addition, Beall said that the company made significant headway on its three key initiatives, focusing on freshness, hospitality and a remodeling program designed to improve the company’s image to that of a “high-quality casual dining restaurant.”

Beall said that the initiatives will feature more fresh, quality items on the Ruby Tuesday menu, increased emphasis on improving the guest experience and the remodeling of at least half of its company-owned restaurants , starting with its largest markets. Ruby Tuesday Inc. has company-owned and/or franchise restaurants in 44 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 13 foreign countries. As of March 6, the count totaled 678 company-owned Ruby Tuesdays and 248 locations operated by franchisees.

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