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Record Christmas for Chez Gérard group

13 January 2005 by

Chez Gérard owner Paramount today reported record Christmas sales, with growth more than double that of the previous year.

In a further sign that people were much happier eating out this Christmas than hitting the high-street, Paramount, which also owns Livebait, Café Fish and Bertorelli, said sales over the six weeks to 2 January had risen by 12.7%.

This compared with like-for-like growth of 5.7% at the same point in the previous year.

It follows upbeat trading statements over the past few days from Restaurant Group, Urbium, Domino's and Inventive Leisure.

By comparison, high-street retail giants such as Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury, Woolworths and book chain Ottakar's have all reported a pretty torrid Christmas.

Sales had also held up well over the past six months, with like-for-like growth of 9.4%, said Paramount chief executive Nick Basing.

"All our brands performed well and for the second year running we delivered record-breaking sales during the pre-Christmas week. These results reflect the growing popularity of our brands and are a good barometer of the company's health," he said.

But he also warned shareholders that the group's half-year results would be affected by some hefty costs associated with its expansion programme.

In September, the company announced it planned to expand its two new restaurant formats, Brasserie Chez Gérard and Caffe Bertorelli, outside the capital.

During the first three months of this year, a Chez Gérard would open in London's Victoria and a Bertorelli restaurant close to Fenchurch Street in the City, Basing added.

"The company is also pursuing other attractive locations in London and provincially, in line with its expansion programme.

"Continuing the strategy of refining the business, the conversion of our Livebait site in Fetter Lane into the Bertorelli format responded well during the recent Christmas period," he said.

by Nic Paton

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