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Newly-listed restaurant chain Tortilla has revealed exceptional forecast-beating results despite harsh coronavirus restrictions impacting trade.

Thanks to a particularly thriving performance in the final quarter and high sales across its eat-in, takeaway and delivery channels, the burrito maker saw total revenues climb by 79 per cent to £48.1million last year.

On a like-for-like basis, its UK revenues expanded were 23.8 per cent higher on pre-pandemic levels even though it was affected by the national lockdown at the start of 2021 and other curbs throughout the year.

The group was further boosted by opening nine new restaurants in the UK, seven of which were company-owned and two in a franchise arrangement, in cities such as Edinburgh and Exeter.

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Delivery kitchens were also launched in Manchester and London’s Balham and Brent Cross areas, and it noted that deliveries make up over 30 per cent of its overall sales.

Tie-ups were also struck with food service chain SSP Group for sites at the Skelton Lake motorway services and Gatwick Airport, and with Merlin Entertainments to open premises at Chessington World of Adventures theme park.

Bosses at Tortilla expressed optimism that the firm would perform in accordance with forecasts this year as trading curbs weaken, even with reduced public financial support, and would achieve its goal to launch 45 more sites in the coming five years.

This latter goal was announced in September when the the business declared its intention to list on the junior AIM exchange, which it completed the following month, raising £5million in gross proceeds as a consequence.

Richard Morris, the chief executive, said: ‘We are delighted to have maintained the very strong trading momentum, outlined at the time of our IPO, to achieve an excellent full-year performance.

‘This was supported by the growing appeal of our proposition and the continued expansion of the Tortilla brand.

‘Once again, the adaptability of Tortilla’s offer supported us through the latter stages of the year to achieve a strong performance across both delivery and take away.’

Begun by California-born Brandon Stephens 15 years ago in response to frustration over the lack of Mexican restaurants in London, the company now has 64 establishments worldwide.

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Ten franchised sites exist in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, but the overwhelming majority of venues are situated in Britain, including at major travel hubs like London Euston, Charing Cross and Birmingham Grand Central stations.

The firm said trade had remained ‘very positive’ across its store estate in spite of the spread of the Omicron variant, which has made many Britons more reluctant to dine out at hospitality venues.

AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould was highly complementary of the group’s results, saying: ‘It’s always better to under-promise and over-deliver and Tortilla Mexican Grill has certainly found the recipe to surpass expectations.

‘With so many companies who joined the stock market in recent years failing to live up to the hype, it’s refreshing to see Tortilla pleasantly surprise with its first trading update as a listed business.

‘This is even more impressive given it managed to have a knock-out fourth quarter, a period which included the rapid spread of Omicron across the country and a sudden drop in people prepared to go out and socialise for fear of catching the virus and having Christmas ruined.’

Shares in Tortilla Mexican Grill ended trading up 3.8 per cent at 190.5p on Monday.


Source: This is Money

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