Belfast Telegraph

Franco Manca owner considers gobbling up stores axed by rivals

Fulham Shore, which also owns The Real Greek restaurants, said revenue growth had been ‘encouraging’ in the first 21 weeks of its financial year.

The owner of the Franco Manca pizza chain is looking to take advantage of the woes in the sector as it revealed plans for further expansion as struggling rivals axe eateries.

Fulham Shore, which also owns The Real Greek restaurants, said it was considering opportunities for new restaurants as a raft of properties have come on to the market following high-profile troubles in the casual dining sector.

There has been a string of recent emergency restructurings for the likes of burger chain Byron, Prezzo, Jamie Oliver’s Italian outlets and Carluccio’s, and a swathe of restaurants have closed.

But Fulham Shore chairman David Page said the group was bucking the trend, with aims to expand further after seeing “encouraging” revenue growth for both its chains in the first 21 weeks of its financial year.

Ahead of the group’s annual shareholder meeting on Thursday, Mr Page said: “We are seeing more properties coming to the market as a result of the current conditions in the wider retail and dining out sectors.

“We will continue to assess these opportunities and respond accordingly.”

It is already close to completing on a number of new sites for the current and coming financial year, having already opened two Franco Manca pizzerias so far in its financial year, in Bath and Cambridge.

After closing one in Brighton Marina, the group has 58 restaurants in the UK, comprising 16 The Real Greek and 42 Franco Manca, as well as one Franco Manca franchise in Italy.

Mr Page said sales growth had been helped by “a slightly greater number of transactions in both of our businesses and is driven by menu innovation, the quality of food, the value of our propositions and dedication of our team”.

It marks a return to better trading for the firm, which had warned over profits last year after it was hit by a slowdown in trade in July and August, particularly at its suburban London restaurants.

Annual results in July showed the group swung to a pre-tax loss of £110,000 for the year to March 25, compared with a pre-tax profit of £1.4 million for the previous year.

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