Bill’s warns of slower short-term unit growth as accounts show rise in turnover to £119m

Turnover at Bill’s Restaurants rose 7% last year to £118.6m as the company delivered a “great deal of change” across its business to equip itself for the challenges facing the market.

Accounts for the 12 months to 30 July 2017, which were lodged with Companies House yesterday, reference the fact that the 80-strong chain made “significant” investments during the year to evolve its menu, training systems, operational structure and management tools to further empower its general managers to consistently deliver results.

Although the focus of the reporting period was on consolidating the brand’s strong position in the market and building solid foundations for future growth, the business opened four new restaurants in Chelmsford, Southampton, Victoria and Canterbury, with each outperforming its initial sales targets.

Further sites have since been added in Braintree, Bracknell, Rushden Lakes and Plymouth, although Bill’s said the volatility of the macro environment is likely to lead to a slower rate of new unit growth in the short term.

Gross profit margins remained broadly in line with the previous year, while adjusted EBITDA before pre-opening and exceptional costs increased 0.5% to £13.6m. Net profit fell from £5.7m to £3.5m.

A £2.1m impairment charge was taken against tangible fixed assets and £600,000 against property lease premiums.

In the year ahead the company said it would make further investments in the digital side of its business, including its ‘Bill’s Hub’ for employees and a mobile app for guests.

The app enables guests to book tables, order meals for collection and manage their bills. Since its launch at the end of last year downloads have averaged 5,000 per week, while payments using the app have reached 2.5% of total sales.

At the start of this year, CEO Mark Fox stepped down from his post and was replaced by Duncan Garrood, formerly of Punch Taverns.

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