Extreme weather and June's football World Cup held back the Individual Restaurant Company's (IRC) performance in the first half of 2010, but the Piccolino operator believes conditions are improving.
At the company's interim results presentation today (13 September), chief executive Steven Walker said: "I have been pleased by the return to revenue growth generally experienced over the past five months (excluding the football World Cup month of June) and I remain confident in the inherent strength of both of our brands."
IRC, which operates 33 restaurants under the Piccolino and Restaurant Bar & Grill formats, saw revenue in the first half drop 2% to £24.6m (from £25.1m in 2009).
Restaurant EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) was down 22% at £2.7m.
IRC said this, as with the drop in revenue, was down to the snow at the start of the year that shut down large parts of the UK. Consumers staying at home to watch the football in June also hurt sales, although IRC said it had maintained its gross margins in line with 2009 at 73.4%.
The company, which is putting in-house trainers into each of its sites to boost customer service standards, predicted trading conditions in the next six months would be at least in line with those of the corresponding period in 2009 (traditionally its stronger half).
IRC said that with a backdrop of improving revenue trends it should be able to absorb the planned increase in national minimum wage this October.
Net debt was reduced from £16.4m to £15m during the period, although the operator warned that the lack of development capital available was presenting difficulties when it came to expanding its brands further.
By Chris Druce
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