Wagamama customers embrace al-fresco dining

Diners flocked to embrace eating al-fresco following the easing of restrictions last month, according to the owners of Wagamama.

The Restaurant Group said sales were at 85% of 2019 levels across 130 sites, despite customers only being able to eat outdoors and at socially distanced tables.

The company’s pubs estate of 75 sites was also at 85% of 2019 levels; however, its other restaurant brands, including Frankie & Benny’s and Garfunkels, were only trading at 60% of a year ago.

Prior to reopening in England on April 12, around 200 sites were open for delivery and takeaway with sales for home dining at around three times pre-Covid levels at Wagamama. At its other brands it was at 5.5 times.

Since welcoming customers indoors again from May 16, the company has seen a strong surge in demand, with Wagamama 22% ahead of 2019 sales and its other restaurants 21% up.

Bosses also said they have completed a previously announced £450 million refinancing deal with lenders and have drawn down £330 million so far. A £120 million credit facility has also been agreed.

Interest costs for the year are expected to be around £25 million, and the company is hopeful of a successful future with access to around £200 million currently.

It said the access to cash will “protect against a resurgence/new variant of Covid-19 as well as strengthened flexibility to capitalise on selective site expansion” in its Wagamama and pubs businesses.