Franco Manca owner plans new openings as sales rise

Franco Manca owner The Fulham Shore will open more restaurants this year after higher numbers of customers flocked to its sites.

In a trading update ahead of the group’s full results for the year to March 31, The Fulham Shore – led by former Pizza Express boss David Page – said it had overcome challenges at its London sites where new openings were cannibalising business at the expense of nearby locations.

The problems had forced the business, which also owns The Real Greek, to warn on profits in September 2017 and March last year, as well as slow down its expansion plans.

But the company said early sites are now achieving growth again, with increasing customer numbers at both existing and new restaurants.

Revenue and earnings are both expected to be ahead of last year’s figures.

The opening schedule is now being accelerated on the back of stronger trading.

In the current financial year, four new Franco Manca sites have opened in London, Bath and Cambridge. There are 44 outlets of the chain in the UK, one in Italy, and 16 branches of The Real Greek.

Negotiations are now under way for several new restaurant leases in the UK, as the group takes advantage of better rent terms in the wake of a swathe of closures on the high street last year.

It also revealed it is considering paying out a dividend to shareholders.

Shares in the firm climbed 4.89% to 11.8p on Thursday.

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