Casual Dining Group maps out project and refurb schedule for the year ahead

The Casual Dining Group, operator of some of the UK’s largest restaurant chains, has mapped out its new projects and refurbishments schedule for the year ahead.

The company, which owns Cafe Rouge, Bella Italia and Las Iguanas, described it as an “active” itinerary, with new launches planned for prime sites, airports, concessions and hotel joint ventures.

20 refurbs are planned for the next six months, while three further sites will open in IHG hotels following the success of Belgo in the Crown Plaza Kings Cross.

CDG has committed to 17 international openings planned for calendar year 2018, in countries including South Africa, Ireland, Gibraltar and the Middle East.

From April 2018, CDG will go live in 200 stores across delivery platforms Uber Eats, Deliveroo and Just Eat as part of an effort to grow volumes.

It has also struck an agreement with national supermarket to stock a full range of Bella Italia products in 500 stores from September 2018.

CDG has opened seven new UK sites in the last nine months, including Heathrow T5, Luton Airport, Centre Parcs and four Las Iguanas sites, but it has come against what it describes as a “challenging backdrop”.

Sales increased 10% to £329m for the year to the end of May 2017, but like-for-like growth was just 2% and adjusted EBITDA fell by £4m to £29.9m.

Overall group losses increased 18% to £60m, although more than a third of this was due to an exceptional cost of £24m related to additional financing.

Steve Richards, CEO of Casual Dining Group, said: “Casual Dining Group’s brand diversity, and digital reach mean the Group has delivered a resilient performance in a year when costs driven by regulation and government action have been extreme and unprecedented.

“The group continues its strategy of investing in its UK restaurants and expanding its footprint in predictable locations such as airports, Center Parcs and JVs in established hotel chains, as well as expanding internationally by way of franchise and JV.

“Against a challenging backdrop, we have maintained progression while further reducing discounting, which at group level, is now at its lowest level in four years. At the same time, we have been very conservative with our retail price increases as we continue to offer best value to our customers.”

Mr Richards said that current trading remains ahead of the market, with positive low digit like-for-like sales. EBITDA growth is expected for the rest of the current year.

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