Italian restaurant group Carluccio's today revealed full-year profits had fallen, but said there have been signs of improved consumer confidence in recent weeks.
Adjusted pre-tax profits for the 12 months to 27 September fell to £4.7m from £5.6m last year as costs rose, partly due to a weak exchange rate and higher utility costs. Turnover was up to £69m from £64.1m as expansion continued.
However, Carluccio's said it was debt free and completed the financial year with a cash balance of £3.1m.
Managing director Simon Kossoff told Caterersearch the group had performed well considering the tough environment.
"We continue to be cautious for 2010 but first eight weeks of the year have been good and we are marginally ahead of expectations," he said.
Kossoff added that the group had maintained margins as it had avoided discounting, beyond its usual offers in January.
"Unlike our competition, we haven't gone down the discounting route and have no plans to do so in the future," he said. "While we will offer special deals in January, a traditionally quiet trading time, we will not offer vouchers as this is damaging to the brand."
Carluccio's expansion programme remains unchanged and the group, which currently operates 45 restaurants, has five new outlets in the pipeline for 2010.
"We have two restaurants lined up for Wimbledon, south London, and Cardiff next year and will continue to focus on a UK-wide expansion," Kossoff said.
"Our restaurant in Dubai is performing well despite what's going on there and we have plans to open two more restaurants there under franchise next year."
By Kerstin Kühn
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