Pizza Express revenues up but struggles to keep same slice of the UK casual dining market

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Pizza Express (not pictured) has had a tough time in the UK market (Source: Getty)

Pizza Express posted robust revenue growth today but the casual dining group struggled to maintain its slice of the UK eating-out market.

The figures

Turnover grew by 14 per cent to £488m in the year ended 26 June, up from £423m in 2015. 

In the UK and Ireland like-for-like sales were down by 1.3 per cent, reflecting a "broader slowdown" in a "challenging" domestic market. 

The group's dough was flat in the period as earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose just 0.1 per cent in the period to £100.3m

Read more: Pizza Express forced to redivide the dough

However, Pizza Express' estate grew significantly over the period, with diners in China boosting overall revenues.

Alongside 18 new store openings in the UK and Ireland Pizza Express opened 17 new sites internationally, including 11 in China and Hong Kong, as well as its first restaurant in Singapore in July. 

Why it's interesting

In the UK market this year Pizza Express doubled down on efforts to launched new lines and partnerships.

These included the re-launch of its retail range, including the introduction of gluten-free pizzas in Sainsbury's, and a new partnership with O2 Priority that was "proving popular" with customers. 

Read more: Former Pizza Express owner weighing takeover of Frankie & Benny's parent

In May, Pizza Express also inked a deal with Deliveroo, signing up around 200 of its restaurants to deliver on the service by the end of July. This is around half of its total locations. 

It also said its Firezza business was "progressing well" since it was acquired in February and plans to roll the pizza delivery group out beyond its current London heartland. 

What the company said

Chief executive Richard Hodgson said:

This has been a more challenging year for the UK casual dining sector, with a more cautious consumer and a significant increase in new openings. However, the strength of our offer and the initiatives we have put in place, including in the rapidly growing home delivery market, stand us in good stead.

In addition, further international growth, especially in China, represents a significant opportunity for us. We have the benefit of a strong brand and resilient business model that has traded successfully for over 50 years, and we are confident that Pizza Express will deliver further progress in the year ahead.