Wagamama
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Restaurant chain Wagamama has dished up a double digit hike in half-year sales and earnings less than two months after its £559 million takeover.

The group posted a 10% hike in UK like-for-like sales over its first half to November 11 and said underlying earnings rose 9.9% to £25.9 million.

It was boosted by a 12% surge in UK like-for-like sales in the second quarter.

The figures follow its takeover in November by Frankie & Benny’s owner, The Restaurant Group, although they cover the period before the deal was secured.

Emma Woods, newly appointed chief executive of Wagamama, said: “We want Wagamama to be special, both the bowl and the soul, and so have continued to invest in our amazing teams, our vegan food and our customer service this quarter.

The business is well prepared for, and excited about, the next stage of its development, with The Restaurant Group as our new owners

Emma Woods

“As a result, we have sustained our outperformance of the UK market.”

She added: “The business is well prepared for, and excited about, the next stage of its development, with The Restaurant Group as our new owners.”

The group said total turnover rose 13.7% to £178.9 million over the half-year, helped by the like-for-like sales increase and five restaurant openings in the UK, taking the total to 134.

It also refurbished 14 restaurants and opened new franchise eateries in Qatar, Norway, Italy, the United Arab Emirates and Spain, giving it a worldwide total of 198.

But figures showed that hefty refinancing costs hit the group’s bottom line, with pre-tax losses of £4 million recorded, though this is half the £8.2 million loss seen a year earlier.

Related: Fast Food Franchises in the UK – 10 Things Every Would-Be Franchisee Must Know

The recent Restaurant Group deal raised eyebrows, coming at an increasingly challenging time for the eating-out sector, which is suffering from a slowdown in consumer spending.

But Wagamama has out-performed its rivals and claims to have beaten the market for nearly five years.

However, there was still significant opposition to its takeover despite being approved by Restaurant Group shareholders.

Just under 61% of shareholders supported the deal, which is being paid for
through a combination of a £315 million rights issue and a £220 million
revolving credit facility.

Former private equity owner Duke Street made an impressive return on its investment, having bought Wagamama in 2011 for £215 million.

It was revealed last month that about 4,000 Wagamama staff are sharing a £4 million bonus pot as part of a payout ordered by former chief executive Jane Holbrook and Duke Street following the takeover.

Source: Belfast Telegraph

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