PIZZA and pasta restaurant chain Prezzo outlined more ambitious expansion plans yesterday after serving up a 14 per cent rise in profits.
The chain, which operates 189 restaurants, said underlying profits hit £16.4 million in the year to 1 January, helped by the opening of 27 sites, including Edinburgh, and strong trading in the final quarter of the year.
It warned customers had been more cautious in early 2012 but said it will still open a further 20 sites this year, including its 20th Chimichanga Tex-Mex eatery.
Prezzo, which halted expansion plans in 2009 during the recession, recently unveiled a restaurant as part of the redevelopment of Kings Cross railway station in London and plans further openings in Bath, Bristol and Cobham. The overall expansion plans for this year will see the firm create about 350 jobs.
Bottom-line profits rose 15 per cent to £16.1m, higher than City expectations of £15.8m.
Chairman Michael Carlton said: “Prezzo has continued to expand its representation throughout a range of locations across the UK in 2011 and I am pleased to announce another set of impressive figures.”
Carlton said he has increasing confidence in its Chimichanga chain, which offers food such as fajita wraps, tortilla burgers and enchiladas.
But the bulk of the group’s business remains its Italian-style Prezzo eateries, where it has introduced a new menu featuring three types of pizza – classic, a lighter pizza served with a salad, or a bigger, crispier pizza with more toppings. Chef Aldo Zilli has also created a Zilli Meat pizza for the chain.
The firm recently put its performance down to its focus on value, as well as investment in products and online offerings and its move to more prime locations.
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