SALES at Domino Pizza's Irish stores in the fourth quarter reversed what had been an improving trend, declining 3.8pc in the 14 weeks to December 30, according to the group.
Releasing a trading update, Domino's said that overall group trading continued to be "robust", with like-for-like sales in the UK growing by 5pc in the period.
But the performance in Ireland is likely to have disappointed given the headway that had been made in 2012 in tackling an extremely challenging market for the pizza maker.
Since the downturn, Domino's has been forced to give financial support to some Irish franchisees, and suffered some sharp sales declines.
But during 2012 it began to deliver sales growth again, something which chief executive Lance Batchelor described as "particularly pleasing". Shares in the company declined even as it said its 'system sales' rose 20pc in the period to £174.5m (€214.2m).
"The star of the show continues to be online sales," said Domino's. Total online sales for the year climbed 46.3pc to £268.6m. Online sales accounted for 55.7pc of delivered sales, it added. Mr Batchelor said he was "excited" by the positive signs for Domino's fledgling operations in Germany, but analysts said Domino's could struggle to top the 2012 performance.