The refurbishment of the Bill’s restaurant estate has set the business back on track, according to the company’s financial results.
Bills Restaurants reported “disappointing” earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of £9.9m during the 74 weeks to 30 December 2018 against £13.6m in the 52 weeks to 30 July 2017, which documents filed with Companies House said were due to the “well reported challenges” in both the economic environment and the casual dining sector. For 2018 the group reported turnover of £175m against £118.6m during the previous financial year.
Due to the “ongoing nature of challenges in the casual dining market”, the group said it dropped its development of a grab-and-go concept and instead decided to reinvest in the core Bill’s brand, initially with three refurbishments in St Albans, Hertfordshire, and Westfield White City and Covent Garden in London.
Following the refurbishments, the report said the restaurants “started to perform well” and the programme was extended to a further 10 restaurants, which were completed by the end of November 2018. By December, the entire business was trading ahead of the CGA Peach Tracker.
Nine restaurants were refurbished between April and June 2019, and another five in August and September 2019. A total of 27 restaurants had been refurbished at the time the reports were filed, which were “performing ahead of expectations”, out of the group’s 93-strong portfolio.
Bill’s is now rolling out the refurbishment programme across the rest of its estate and further leases are under negotiation; with like-for-like sales up 8.8% for the first three quarters of 2019, the refurbished restaurants performing “significantly ahead of this” and EBITDA is “more than double”.
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