Tough trading conditions in the casual dining market have not had the same impact on PizzaExpress as its competitors, as the now Chinese-owned chain served up full year results showing turnover of £534.2m, up 6.3% on last year.
Although growth in like-for-like sales in the UK and Ireland was a modest 0.4%, total group like-for-like sales increased some 1.4% reflecting a strong international performance.
The pizza giant opened a record 27 new owned restaurants overseas as well as seven new franchises. The international arm turned in like-for-like sales growth of 8.2%, with particularly strong sales in China.
Cost pressures in the UK, which have depressed performance across casual dining and seemingly hit purveyors of Italian food hard, had a negative impact on EBIDTA, which was down 8.9% to £94.6m.
While competitors such as Prezzo and Jamie's Italian have had to scale back operations to cope with market conditions, PizzaExpress has opened 13 restaurants and refurbished 25 outlets in the UK in the last year. It has also moved into motorway service stations for the first time.
"As expected, the growth in international has been offset by the widely publicised sector cost headwinds in the UK, including higher food prices and wage increases as well as the rise in business rates and commercial rents," PizzaExpress chief executive and chairman Jinlong Wang said.