Pizza Express takes a slice out of home market

Pizza Express saw like-forlike sales rise 6.8 per cent
Pizza Express yesterday reported strong half-­year trading with like­-for-­like sales ahead by 6.8 per cent in the 28 week period to 11 January 2015.

Chief executive Richard Hodgson said the restaurant chain’s strong performance is down to new openings, continuous innovation and a record Christmas trading period, which saw like-­for­like growth of 11.2 per cent over the festive fortnight.

“Group turnover has grown by over nine per cent to £231m, driven by both a strong organic performance and the benefits of new openings. During the same period, we grew group earnings [before adjustments] by nearly 16 per cent to £55m.”

The new openings consist of 11 rest­aurants in the UK and seven in Asia.

“Our international operations are currently a small part of the group but represent an exciting opportunity to grow in emerging markets. During the first half, we opened five restaurants in China – one each in Hong Kong and Shenzen and three in Shanghai – and two in India, in Delhi and Mumbai.”

The brand’s strong retail perfor­mance was also praised following the launch of Romana pizzas in supermarkets, which aim to offer the Pizza Express experience at home and are now responsible for more than 34m pizza sales in the UK.

Hodgson predicted like-­for-­likes will be slightly lower than the brand’s performance in the year to date, given the tougher comparatives in the second half of the year. However, he remains confident the brand will deliver a strong performance for the year as a whole. Pizza Express celebrates its 50 anniversary this year.

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