City diners help Itsu and Leon to tasty results

Marion Dakers
LONDON’S healthy lunch spots are serving up growing sales and plans to expand beyond the capital.

Itsu said yesterday a bigger menu and its first opening outside London have set it up for expansion across the country. The sushi specialist, launched by Pret a Manger founder Julian Metcalfe, posted a 22 per cent rise in turnover to £45.2m in the year to January, with like-for-like sales growth of 8.3 per cent.

The menu overhaul helped attract new customers but took a bite out of the firm’s margins, and earnings fell from £3.6m to £3.3m. Itsu aims to have 50 stores by the end of 2013.

“The investment has set the business up well for the future with significant growth now being seen in sales outside lunchtime, and the appeal being much greater amongst a wider group of customers,” said finance boss Landen Prescott-Brann.

Leon said earnings almost trebled to £920,554 in 2012, while pre-tax losses were cut dramatically to £173,373. Turnover rose from £12m to £12.7m. It has plans to expand beyond the M25.