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MARYVILLE, TN-Ruby Tuesday will focus on improving its existing restaurants this year, forgoing opening new units, executives said at the company’s fourth quarter conference call.

The company does not plan to plan to open any company-owned restaurants in fiscal 2010 and expects to close approximately 14 units as part of a previously announced plan to close 30 restaurants over the next few years as leases expire. Franchisees will open six restaurants, five of them international. Approximately 30 to 35 units are earmarked for sale.

“We don’t need to [open new restaurants] to increase company earnings and returns,” said Sandy Beall, founder and CEO. “We want more traffic in our restaurants.”

For the quarter, total revenue was $317.3 million, down 7.1% from the same period last year. Same-restaurant sales for the fourth quarter decreased 3.2% and 6.9% at company-owned and domestic franchise Ruby Tuesday restaurants, respectively. The company reported earnings of $14.4 million, compared with $13.9 million for the fourth quarter of the prior year.

For the fiscal year, revenue was $1.25 billion, down 8.2% from the previous year. Same-restaurant sales for the fiscal year decreased 7.9% and 6.6% at Company-owned and domestic franchise Ruby Tuesday restaurants, respectively. The company posted a net loss of $17.9 million vs. net income of $26.4 million for fiscal 2008.

Ruby Tuesday operates 672 company-owned Ruby Tuesday restaurants and 229 franchisee-owned units in 46 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and 13 foreign countries.

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