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Cold weather helps to boost Domino’s

DOMINO’S PIZZA said yesterday people staying in because of the cold weather helped its sales beat City forecasts.

The fast food delivery chain, which has 608 stores in the UK and Ireland, said in a fourth quarter trading update like-for-like sales rose 8.6 per cent in the 13 weeks to 27 December, despite the downturn and stiff competition from rivals such as Pizza Hut and Papa John’s.

The chain, which sponsors ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent, forecast profits ahead of expectations and said it opened a record 55 new stores last year.

Domino’s chief executive Chris Moore said: “In 2009, and in particular due to an exceptionally strong final quarter, we have outperformed our predicted like-for-like sales, improved our margins and opened more stores than anticipated.

He added: “With this in mind, I am delighted to announce that the company will deliver full year 2009 profits comfortably ahead of current City expectations.”

The current market consensus forecast is for annual profits to grow by 22 per cent to £28m.

The chain has so far benefited in the recession as consumers choose to eat in rather than splash out on restaurant meals. The downturn has also given it an advantage in securing improved media advertising rates.

Domino’s is expanding heavily to take advantage of the nation’s love of pizza and hopes to have 1,000 stores by 2017.

The business opened three more stores last year than in 2008. And last year it opened its 600th in High Holborn in London.

For the year, online sales, which are less costly, rose 40.4 per cent to £78.5m and accounted for 27.8 per cent of total UK sales.