Snow spoiled Christmas for Individual Restaurant Company, owner of the Piccolino and Bar & Grill brands, with like-for-like sales down 4%.
The company, which operates 33 sites (22 Piccolino and 11 Bar & Grill), said it entered the Christmas trading period with optimism, with forward bookings "significantly ahead" of the previous year. However the severe weather conditions impacted trading during the first three weeks of that period.
Despite the weather problems the company said it experienced "significant growth" for the last two weeks of the month as the snow cleared, which meant group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) would be "marginally below" expectations. Pre-tax profit is also expected to remain positive.
Meanwhile early trading in 2011 was "buoyant", the company said, and the like-for-like growth experienced in December has continued at "very satisfactory levels". But like many other operators, the firm said it was uncertain to what degree the uplift in the rate of VAT and Government spending cutbacks will impact the group and expected trading to remain challenging.
Commenting ahead of Individual Restaurant Company's preliminary results on 4 April, chief executive Stephen Walker said: "I am pleased to report another profitable trading performance in what has been a very testing year. I remain confident in the inherent strength of both of our brands.
"Whilst 2011 isn't going to be without its challenges, it is particularly encouraging that the positive trends experienced at the end of last year have continued into trading in the early weeks of the current year, clearly demonstrating the resilience of our business and the ongoing customer appeal for our restaurants."
By Neil Gerrard
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