Carluccio’s on expansion trail

ITALIAN restaurant and deli chain Carluccio’s yesterday said it had expanded into sites left empty by recession-hit rivals as it posted a profit rise.

The restaurant saw its profits jump by eight per cent in the first-half to £2.7m. Director Simon Kossoff said: “Over the last 18 months a lot of our competition backed off expansion for funding reasons, and at the same time a whole bunch of independent restaurants came on the market.

He added: “We had no debt and found rents easing, especially outside of London, so it was a good time to invest.”

Carluccio’s has opened restaurants in Wimbledon, Exeter and Cardiff during the six months to March, taking its total UK portfolio to 45 outlets.

The company’s sales rose eight per cent to £37.1m during the period.

Kossoff said he expected to open five more branches this year. He added: “We can see the potential to put Carluccio’s on 120 stores in the UK.”

Carluccio’s is expecting VAT to go up as the new coalition government moves to slash the budget deficit.

The company warned that the consumer environment was likely to remain “difficult to predict and uncertain”.

However, it claimed that its business model – with an average spend of £13 per person – “had proved extremely resilient”.