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Azzurri Group hunts for more sites amid double-digit profit and revenue growth

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Azzurri Group hunts for more sites amid double-digit profit and revenue growth

Azzurri Group is on the lookout for more sites after filing “decent” financial results for 2017, despite the turmoil enveloping some of its rivals in the casual dining sector.

The firm, which owns the Ask Italian and Zizzi restaurant brands, reported a 10% increase in turnover to £249.3m for the 53 weeks to 2 July 2017, compared to the 52-week period the year before (running up to 26 June 2016).

Pre-tax profit increased 9.4% to £19.3m in 2017, up from £17.6m in 2016.

In his strategic report accompanying the accounts, chief financial officer James Pickworth said Azzurri Group had enjoyed a “decent” year” despite the challenging market and uncertain economic climate”.

The company, which was last month reported to be the subject of potential bid interest from private equity firms thanks to its strong performance in relation to struggling operators like Jamie’s Italian, Prezzo and Byron, grew from 256 restaurants in 2016 to a total of 260 in the year to July 2017.

Pickworth said both of the Azzurri’s core brands, Zizzi and Ask Italian, continued to roll out refurbishments to bring the estate up to date.

And he suggested that acquisition of more sites was on the cards, adding: “New locations are sought and selected to build a strong pipeline to facilitate future growth plans, which remains key to the company’s future growth.”

However, there were few indications in the report as to how the business has traded since the accounting period ended.

Many other operators in the casual dining sector have found the going tough, with Jamie’s Italian, Byron, Strada and Prezzo all announcing mass closures since the start of 2018.

Azzurri Group looks set to shed at least one site, with the lease at the Ask Italian restaurant at the Business Design Centre in London’s Islington currently up for sale.

Meanwhile, Zizzi has had to contend with the closure of its restaurant in Salisbury, Wiltshire, as a precaution following the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

Azzurri Group declined to comment further on its results or on its subsequent performance.

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