Itsu takes a bite out of its losses despite heavy growth investment

Louis Ashworth
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Itsu specialises in sushi and rice-based dishes (Source: Tiia Monto)

The founder of fast food chain Itsu has claimed “food is the new fashion”, after the company saw its end-of-year losses fall despite investments in overseas expansion.

Itsu, which is known for its Asian-influenced food, particularly sushi and rice dishes, saw raw sales growth of 10 per cent last year, with pre-tax losses dropping to £8.9m, down from £9.4 lost in 2016.

The company has placed a strong emphasis on nutrition, and said its low-calorie menu was driving interest from consumers who are showing increased consciousness about the healthiness of what they eat.

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In a statement attached to its latest accounts, its founder Julian Metcalfe – part of the team that created Pret a Manger – said: “Health, better nutrition and concerns about obesity are all-consuming. Recently food has overtaken people on Instagram. Food is the new fashion!”

Itsu claimed it had made savings at its head office and by working on cost controls within stores, but said an inflation in food prices, labour and property costs had offset growth.

It also invested heavily to prepare for its first overseas launch, a New York City branch which opened earlier this year, as well as putting money into technology.

“Food businesses and restaurant formulas can easily become extremely complex,” said Metcalfe. “Itsu will continue to worship operational simplicity.”

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