Polpo swings to a loss as sites in London, Exeter and Bristol close

Alys Key
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Polpo still has five restaurants in London and one in Brighton (Source: Stuart Matthews for Polpo)

Restaurant chain Polpo swung to a loss of more than £2m last year as it closed underperforming sites and sold up its Ape & Bird pub.

The chain filed accounts yesterday at Companies House, narrowly avoiding a compulsory strike-off after it was late to submit its balance sheet.

In the year to 31 March, the group made a loss before tax of more than £2m. This was compared to a profit of over £1m the year before and was a result of charges related to closures of several sites.

Regional sites were opened in Exeter and Bristol during the period. However, since the end of the financial year, both of these have been closed. The company also closed its popular central London gastropub Ape & Bird, but this was because it received an offer from BrewDog, which has now opened in the space.

During the accounting period, branches were also closed inside two Harvey Nichols stores in Leeds and London.

Read more: Restaurants face double whammy of lower footfall and soaring business rates

Turnover was up six per cent to £14.2m during the period, due to the new openings.

Managing director Scott Macdonald said: "As per the strategic report, our EBITDA was up from £1.3m to £1.5m. Our loss was driven by one off exceptional costs relating to the closure of various sites. The business had gone through positive structural, cultural and strategic changes since then. Our underlying performance of the business remains strong."

Despite the closures, the company's founders Russell Norman and Richard Beatty are planning to launch another brand, called Spuntino, across airports this year in partnership with TRG Concessions.

The closures come amid a wave of restructuring in the restaurant industry, with Carluccio's now rumoured to be the next chain to be considering a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) after it brought in advisers from KPMG.

Jamie's Italian, Byron, and Prezzo have all closed restaurants this year through CVAs. Meanwhile Franco Manca's owner Fulham Shore has said it will scale back new openings, and Wildwood owner Tasty has said it will close more sites.

Read more: The full list of Prezzo's 94 restaurant closures

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