The owner of Wagamama has said it is targeting between 200 and 220 restaurants in the long-term, up from its current estate of around 160 UK sites.
The Restaurant Group said that strong returns from regional restaurants has given it confidence to accelerate its expansion plans, with the aim of now opening between eight to 10 sites from the 2024 financial year onwards.
This comes as the group, which also owns the Frankie & Benny’s chain and the Brunning & Price pub group, releases its interim results for the first half of the 2023 financial year.
The group said it was also aiming to open between one to three “high quality” Brunning & Price pubs from the 2024 financial year onwards.
During the 26 weeks ending 2 July 2023, the group’s total revenue increased by 10% to £467.4m, up from £423.4m the previous year.
Whilst the group’s Wagamama, pubs, and concessions businesses had all seen year-on-year increases in like-for-like sales of 7%, 8%, and 29% respectively, its leisure business saw a fall in sales of 3%.
The Restaurant Group said that despite more resilient trading in the third quarter, it has continued to rationalise its leisure estate. It now expects to reduce the size of this business to around 76 sites by the end of the financial year, down from 116 sites previous year. This would mean that the group’s two-year rationalisation programme would be delivered in 12 months.
The group will hope to achieve this through: the exercising of lease expiries or break clauses on 14 sites; the sale of eight freehold sites; the conversion of three sites to Wagamama restaurants by the end of the 2024 financial year; and the acceleration of the disposal of between 12 and 17 sites through agreements with landlords or alternative tenants.
The Restaurant Group expects to exit the vast majority of lease obligations on the circa 40 closed sites by the end of the 2024 financial year.
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