Franco Manca owner reveals heavy hit from Covid-19 closures

The restaurant owner behind Franco Manca and The Real Greek has revealed the devastation to the sector during the Covid-19 pandemic, sinking to a loss.

Fulham Shore said sales fell 44.9% to £19.9 million with a pre-tax loss of £4.3 million in the six months to September 27 as it was forced to shut restaurants or operate under tough tier restrictions.

But bosses said they remain hopeful for the future and have started looking at new sites where rents are far cheaper due to the economic collapse facing the industry.

Chairman David Page said: “The ongoing damage to the property and restaurant sectors will allow us to prospect for new sites at much reduced rents and with lower capital costs per site.

“The two restaurants we have recently opened cost us less than half of the typical outlay of a year ago.

“We are close to agreeing terms on further sites due to open in calendar year 2021 in London and around the UK for both of our businesses, and look forward to welcoming new customers through our doors when we are able to do so.”

The company now has 72 restaurants, including 49 Franco Mancas and 19 Real Greek sites. Seven locations in central London remain closed but bosses hope to reopen once more people start heading into the city and Tier 3 restrictions end.

After the second national lockdown in England, restaurants were forced to close again, although takeaways and deliveries remained available.

Bosses added: “Most of our restaurants were then permitted to reopen on 2 December 2020 to dine-in customers, with certain restrictions.

“However, as at the date of this report and from 16 December 2020, the majority of our estate is once again closed to dine-in customers as London entered Tier 3 restrictions, while Surrey and Berkshire will enter Tier 3 restrictions from 19 December 2020. The situation is fluid and changes frequently and with little notice.”