Gourmet Burger Kitchen operator Clapham House Group is to slow its break-neck expansion due to concerns over the economy, food price inflation and rent hikes.
This triple-whammy for Clapham House has been intensified by poor sales at its 11 Tootsies restaurants, which this week led the company to issue a profit warning.
Clapham had planned to open 20 to 25 Gourmet Burger Kitchens (GBK) in its next financial year but has scaled this back to 18 units, including some under its other brand such as Bombay Bicycle Kitchen.
Clapham House executive chairman David Page said: "Despite the current uncertain economic outlook, we remain positive about the medium-term demand trends for the UK eating out market, Clapham House's formats and, in particular, the national roll out opportunity for GBK."
Adding to its woes there has been an unspecified 12-month delay in opening new GBK and Real Greek restaurants in the Spitalfields development in London.
Meanwhile its rapid expansion of GBK during this year, with a total of 21 restaurants opened between March 2007 and March 2008, has see Clapham House's debt increase to £13.3m.
It will reveal its full year-end results on Wednesday.
By Christopher Walton