Italian restaurant chain Prezzo has reported a ‘robust' half-year performance but remains cautious about the future.
Chairman Michael Carlton said that trade in the 26 weeks to 28 June 2009 had proved "better than we had feared" during a "particularly challenging period".
He regarded Prezzo's performance as "strong" in the light of the promotional discounts the group had resorted to in order to drive top-line sales.
Prezzo increased turnover by 5.5% to £43.7m (2008: £41.4m) while operating profit (excluding non-trading items from closures in the first half of 2008) was unchanged at £5.1m.
Pre-tax profit slipped by 1.4% to £5.1m while Ebitda remained at £7.1m.
True to its announcement last autumn that it was scaling back on new openings, Prezzo opened no new outlets during the first six months of the year. However, it has since opened one new restaurant and says it has several more in the pipeline.
In the period since 28 June, Prezzo has closed three restaurants (which were all subject to an impairment charge in 2008) and combined two branches in Lincoln into a larger venue. It is currently trading from 137 restaurants.
Carlton was confident that the group would turn in "satisfactory" results for the full year. However, he warned that, "It is true to say that the UK consumer remains subdued and we believe that there are as yet few signs of any sustained recovery in confidence"/
By Angela Frewin
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