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Wed 30th Aug 2017 - PizzaExpress reports UK like-for-likes up 1.3%, Ebitda down 13.6%
PizzaExpress reports UK like-for-likes up 1.3%, Ebitda down 13.6%: PizzaExpress has reported group turnover has increased 9.1% to £260.7m (2016: £239.0m) underpinned by group like-for-like growth of 3.4% in the 26 weeks to 2 July 2017. UK and Ireland like-for-like sales improved, up 1.3%. In international markets, like-for-like sales grew 1.7%. As anticipated, UK sector-wide cost pressures led to group Ebitda decreasing by 13.9% to £40.6m (2016: £47.2m). There were eight new openings in both the UK and Ireland and internationally. Chief executive Jinlong Wang, said: “PizzaExpress has performed in line with expectations in the first half of 2017, with group turnover continuing on its strong growth trajectory. We are pleased like-for-like sales in the UK and Ireland have returned to growth, though sector-wide cost pressures in the UK market, including from business rates, pay rates and food inflation, have meant group Ebitda decreased as expected. Our international business continued to deliver strong growth across all territories. We continued to expand our estate in the UK and Ireland with the opening of eight new sites, including the first Firezza dine-in restaurant in Dean Street, London. With the casual dining sector in the UK facing cost headwinds, we have also been identifying ways to develop and diversify our business. In June, we launched PizzaExpress Live, which gives consumers the PizzaExpress dining experience in our restaurants, combined with live music and other entertainment. We have also continued to develop our retail range, including launching our lighter Leggera range in Waitrose. In addition, we have benefited from our investment in new technology; we rolled out a new point of sale system to help teams and customers, and developed an award-winning Facebook chatbot that allows customers to make bookings over Facebook messenger. Beyond this, we see further opportunities to leverage technology to drive sales and enhance productivity. We maintained our focus on growing the international business which we believe represents a huge opportunity for us. We opened eight new sites in the first half, and have a strong opening pipeline in place for the year ahead. Our experience internationally has taught us that getting our menus right is essential to success in these markets. We have been working on adapting our offering so that it is relevant and appealing to local tastes, which in many cases has meant expanding our range while ensuring that high quality, good value pizza is central to our menu. Also during the quarter we realigned management responsibilities, promoting from within the business to put in place a dedicated management team for the UK and Ireland. This allows the group leadership team more time to support the growth in our international segment, recognising the increasing size and scale of the International segment to the group. Looking ahead, we believe conditions in the UK market will remain challenging, with cost headwinds continuing. However, we do expect various initiatives we have undertaken to partially mitigate these pressures. The recent strong performance of our international business gives us increasing confidence in the opportunity for us in our chosen markets.” 

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