Coffee bar chain Caffè Nero has delivered strong full-year results off the back of rapid expansion, but no further hints as to whether it is will go private.

The chain, which has 282 stores and a 13.5% share of the UK branded coffee market, boosted turnover in the year ended 31 May by 29% to £90.7m (2005: £70.1m).

Pre-tax profit rose 44% to £7.3m, compared with £5.1m a year earlier.

Nero has 45 new stores ear-marked for opening in its current financial year and said it had now reached the point where roll-out was self financing from cash generated by the business.

Gerry Ford, chief executive, said: “This has been another year of progress for the Group in which we have continued our opening programme and also delivered organic growth.”

Last month Ford revealed he had made an informal approach to buy the Alternative Investment Market-listed company and return it to private status.

On 21 September it was announced Ford and Saratoga, the company which holds the beneficial interests of Ford in Nero, and private equity firm Paladin were acting together.

Between them they hold a 42.76% share in the company (29.55 million shares), with Ford holding additional unexercised options of 10.22 million shares.

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By Chris Druce

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