Domino's sales speed up

Britain's biggest pizza delivery firm Domino's Pizza said its sales growth had accelerated in the fourth quarter and its 2011 profit would be in line with market expectations.

Domino's, which operates the British and Irish franchises of the global delivery brand, said sales at its 604 shops open more than a year were up 3.6 per cent in the fourth quarter to 25 December, with UK sales up four per cent and sales in Ireland down one per cent.

For the year as a whole, comparable sales were up three per cent.

The company has benefited through the economic downturn from customers staying in and ordering takeaways rather than going out to eat in restaurants. Offers such as "Two for Tuesday," a buy-one-get-one-free deal, have proved particularly attractive to cash-strapped consumers.

New Chief Executive Lance Batchelor, who took up the role on Boxing Day, said the company had achieved good sales growth despite toughening sales comparatives and last year's VAT rise.

"Domino's is a robust business with strong cash generation and, although the general economy is challenging, we have grown sales and opened a record number of stores," he said.

The company opened 62 stores during the year giving it a total of 726.

Shares in Domino's lost over a quarter of their value last year having trebled in value over the previous two years. The shares closed at 413.8 pence Tuesday, valuing the business at 671 million pounds.

Market expectations for Domino's full-year pre-tax profit range between £40.7m and £43m, with the average forecast standing at £42.1m.

Batchelor said the company's first stores in Germany, which it opened last year, were making good progress. He told Reuters in November that the company's fledgling German operation could grow to be twice as big as its UK business.