Ottolenghi delis and restaurants are defying the downward trend in the casual dining industry, recording an increase in profit and revenue for the year to April.
The company, founded by Israeli-British chef Yotam Ottolenghi, said its London sites continue to outperform sales expectations, in a stark contrast to other restaurant groups which have warned of declining business in the capital.
Turnover in the 53 weeks to 2 April 2017 increased by 5.4 per cent to £17.2m.
Although gross margin fell to 71.8 per cent from 72.4 per cent, gross profit was up at £12.3m. Profit before tax increased almost 50 per cent to just shy of £1.1m.
The directors recommended that a final dividend of £1.1m be paid.
Restaurant operators have been facing particularly tough conditions in the last year. Posh burger pioneers Byron and Gourmet Burger Kitchen have both come under new ownership in the midst of poor performance, while Franco Manca owner Fulham Shore has warned of declining business in London.
But Ottolenghi appears to have dodged the clouds hovering over the casual dining industry. Like the rest of the industry, the chain has faced food price inflation, but it has improved profitability at its sites, with directors citing Spitalfields as being especially improved.
The directors warned, however, that it remained wary of a shortfall in workforce after Brexit, and that the UK's economy could be impacted.
But the company is pushing ahead with plans for the future, including a new site at 55 Wells Street in Fitzrovia, which is set to be the biggest Ottolenghi yet. The company is also supporting Ramael Scully, head chef at NOPI, to open his own restaurant this year.
The directors, including Yotam Ottoleghi, said:
We are immensely proud of all our teams working at each of our sites, and believe the business is only as good as the people it employs.