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Mon 18th Nov 2019 - Azzurri sees full-year like-for-like growth across entire business
Azzurri sees full-year like-for-like growth across entire business, transformational year for Coco di Mama: Azzurri Group, the owner of ASK Italian, Zizzi, Coco di Mama and Radio Alice, has reported a 7% increase in group sales to £299.4m for the year ended 30 June 2019, with like-for-like sales growth across all four brands. The Bridgepoint-backed business said full-year adjusted Ebitda increased 3% from £37m to £38.1m, but “effective management of cost pressures across the casual dining sector” were reflected in the slightly lower Ebitda margin of 12.7% compared with 13.2% the previous year. The Steve Holmes-led business said its performance in the year was driven by new openings in the UK, the Republic of Ireland and China, plus continued investment in refurbishments. It opened ten sites in the year and carried out 29 refurbishments. Internationally, it opened its first site in China, a Zizzi, in Shanghai, and a third site, again under the Zizzi brand, in Ireland. Holmes said it had been a transformational year for its Italian food-to-good concept Coco di Mama, with the acquisition of 13 Pod sites. Of the three Pod sites converted to Coco di Mama since the end of the financial year, he said they were all trading ahead of expectations. Holmes said: “We built on last year’s momentum as a leading operator in the Italian casual dining sector and expanded our presence in the food-to-go market. I am pleased over the past year all four brands grew like-for-like sales and increased their Ebitda and we have made good progress in rolling-out new restaurants. Cost pressures in the UK remain an ongoing challenge for the sector, and although Azzurri is not immune, the group has made adjusted Ebitda improvement and continued to trade well through these difficult conditions. We remain conscious of the current cost environment and continue to take a thoughtful approach to increased operational efficiencies. We have invested significantly in our estate both in the UK and internationally, with a further £20m of capital expenditure this year. Our number of sites now totals 311, with further estate expansion of ten openings, including Zizzi’s third site in Ireland and first site opened in Shanghai. We are pleased with early trading and customer feedback has been positive at these new restaurants. We have also completed 29 refurbishments to ensure we continue to appeal to customers and drive footfall to our restaurants.” Holmes said it was a milestone year for Zizzi, which celebrating its 20th anniversary. He said: “The business delivered growth in both sales and profit and we are pleased the proposition continues to resonate with customers in the UK and now in China too. Our Zizzi restaurants have seen the vast majority of our investment with 17 restaurants undergoing transformation this year. This year was also important as it marked the reopening of our Salisbury restaurant and we have been delighted with the positive response.” Holmes said ASK Italian made good progress in the year in terms of both sales and profit. He said: “The business continued to attract new customers with a combination of outstanding service and truly authentic Italian dishes. We are constantly evolving our menus to create new customer favourites. Our focus on delighting customers meant in 2019 we were the fastest growing brand in the CGA Brand Tracking Index of the biggest casual dining brands in the UK.” He said it had been “a transformational year for Coco di Mama, with solid profit progression and strong returns on our investment”. He said: “Customers continue to love our hero products of made-to-order pasta and speciality coffee, as well as new categories such as gelato and ‘black ice’ lattes. We opened two stores in the year and were delighted to acquire 13 Pod sites, which set us up well for accelerated growth in the future. We have a robust pipeline of new stores to convert into Coco di Mama over the next year and are excited about our prospects for this business.” Holmes said the past year had been “all about building brand awareness and increasing footfall” for its three-strong Radio Alice concept. He said: “We are pleased to have opened a third restaurant in London this year, which is located in the heart of Canary Wharf. Against the continuing challenges in the UK, we have an exciting pipeline of conversions and refurbishments ahead and are focused on expanding our presence, particularly in the food-to-go market.” Propel insights editor Mark Wingett will look at the immediate future direction of the Azzurri Group business in a piece that will be sent to Propel Premium subscribers at 3pm today (Monday, 18 November). 

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