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Thu 25th Aug 2016 - PizzaExpress reports UK and Ireland like-for-likes down 1.3%
PizzaExpress reports UK and Ireland like-for-likes down 1.3%: PizzaExpress has reported like-for-like sales at its UK and Ireland restaurants were down 1.3% in the year ended 26 June 2016, which it said reflected a broader slowdown in the casual dining market. Turnover for the company grew by 14.1% to £488.0m, compared with £427.7m the previous year. Group Ebitda was up 0.1% to £100.3m, compared with £100.2m the year before. It said its UK and Ireland estate continued to grow, with 18 new site openings. It has relaunched its retail range, including introduction of gluten-free pizzas while a new partnership with O2 is proving popular and reaching new customers. It added its Firezza business was progressing well since acquisition in quarter three while its partnership with Deliveroo was now live in more than 200 sites. The international business continued progress in all international markets with 17 new site openings, including 11 in China and Hong Kong. The company has a strong pipeline of openings across all international markets. Chief executive Richard Hodgson said: “Despite a challenging market environment in the UK, PizzaExpress has made steady overall progress throughout the year. I am pleased to say that group turnover grew by 14.1% and that group Ebitda once again broke the £100m barrier, at £100.3m, slightly ahead of last year. During the year, we continued to grow our UK and Ireland estate, with 18 new site openings. In addition, we have successfully implemented a number of new initiatives in the UK and Ireland in order to help reinforce PizzaExpress as one of the UK’s favourite brands and uphold our position as the UK’s leading casual dining chain. We successfully relaunched our PizzaExpress retail range, which has been very well received, with our new pasta range in Waitrose in particular proving very popular. Furthermore, we have expanded our retail offering into the fast-growing ‘free-from’ market with the introduction of a gluten-free pizza in Sainsbury’s. We are also pleased to have entered a new partnership with O2, allowing O2 Priority customers to enjoy a meal at PizzaExpress for just £5 every week. We have also made good progress on our strategy for the home delivery market. Firstly, we continue to be delighted with the performance of Firezza, a leading London pizza delivery business we acquired in February and plan to roll this out beyond its current London heartland. Secondly I am hugely excited about our new partnership with Deliveroo, which means fans of PizzaExpress are now able to have our pizzas delivered to their door in many locations across the country and we are now already live in more than 200 sites from Dublin to Southend. Our international business has continued to progress well in all markets and we have opened 17 new sites in total, with 11 of these in China and Hong Kong. We have also established a strong pipeline of new sites across each of the territories in which we operate. In April we opened a site in Guangzhou, the fourth city for PizzaExpress in mainland China after Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen and have been extremely pleased with its performance so far. We were also delighted to have opened our first ever site in Singapore in July, which has had an encouraging start and has received incredibly positive feedback. This has been a more challenging year for the UK casual dining sector, with a more cautious consumer and a significant increase in new openings. However, the strength of our offer and the initiatives we have put in place, including in the rapidly growing home delivery market, stand us in good stead. In addition, further international growth, especially in China, represents a significant opportunity for us. We have the benefit of a strong brand and resilient business model that has traded successfully for more than 50 years, and we are confident that PizzaExpress will deliver further progress in the year ahead.”

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