Pizza Express' sales have returned to growth in the UK, but the company said today that it will be searching for growth opportunities abroad due to rising cost pressures.
For the 26 weeks ended 2 July, group turnover grew 9.1 per cent to £260.7m, up from £239.0m the year before. The group achieved like-for-like sales growth of 3.4 per cent. In the UK and Ireland, like-for-like sales growth was 1.3 per cent.
Pizza Express' earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation fell 13.9 per cent to £40.6m, down from £47.2m for the same period in 2016.
Why it's interesting
Pizza Express said cost pressures were responsible for its drop in earnings. The restaurant group will have faced a higher wage bill due to rises in the national living wage, and sterling's devaluation has pushed up the cost of imported foods.
However, the firm's chief executive Jinlong Wang said there were growth opportunities in international markets, where like-for-like sales jumped 17.7 per cent.
What Pizza Express said
Wang said: "We maintained our focus on growing the international business which we believe represents a huge opportunity for us. We opened eight new sites in the first half, and have a strong opening pipeline in place for the year ahead. Our experience internationally has taught us that getting our menus right is essential to success in these markets."