Franco Manca and the Real Greek operator Fulham Shore has said it has the financial headroom for a controlled expansion programme, with plans to top 110 restaurants across the UK by the end of 2025.
In its financial report for the year ended 28 March 2021, the group reported a 41.3% decrease in revenue to £40.3m due to Covid-19 trading restrictions, resulting in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and (EBITDA) of £8.7m compared to £14.3m the prior year, and a pre-tax loss of £7.5m.
The group opened two new Franco Manca pizzerias and one new the Real Greek restaurant over the year, totalling 55 Franco Manca and 19 the Real Greek sites in the UK. One new the Real Greek is under construction in Norwich and a lease contract has been exchanged for another Franco Manca in London's Baker Street. Twelve further sites are in the pipeline.
A new team has also been created to explore and progress the international development of both businesses.
The group remained cash flow positive at the year-end thanks to UK government support, such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and the ability of the Franco Manca brand to pivot entirely to delivery and take out was "crucial" to the company's continued performance.
However, Fulham Shore reported a "stark" disparity of performance between city centre locations and other restaurants, with the group's 17 West End of London and city centre office locations seeing revenues down 41% on a two-year like-for-like basis for the eight weeks 21 June to 15 August 2021.
Meanwhile, some of the group's locations were over 30% ahead of 2019 figures because of the UK government's working from home requirement and the rise in coastal town staycations, with some regional and suburban restaurants breaking trading records on a weekly basis and sites in coastal towns and university cities especially busy. The company said it believed there will be sales growth to come from city centre sites to June 2022 as workers return to the office and tourism returns, and the disparity will return to something like normal over the next 12 months.
David Page, executive chairman at the Fulham Shore, said: "In line with our long-term expansion strategy we have developed a strong pipeline of new locations, supported by favourable rental terms and the group's strong cash position. We plan to open 10 locations during the current financial year and have identified more than 150 additional sites in line with our medium-term plans.
"Having navigated the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the group is well-positioned to capitalise on emerging opportunities. We are confident that this current financial year will be the start of another exciting period of growth for the Fulham Shore."