Comptoir Libanais founder endured ‘sleepless nights’ opening chain’s first international site

Comptoir Libanais

Comptoir Libanais, the Lebanese canteen concept with 25 sites in the UK, has opened its first international restaurant, in the Netherlands.

The chain has taken a site in the central Dutch city of Utrecht, marking a new chapter in its growth since it listed on the London Stock Exchange last year.

The launch was confirmed on social media by founder Tony Kitous, who said he had endured “many long days and sleepless nights” to ensure the restaurant opened on schedule.

“This is one of my proudest moments since I landed in London 29 years ago,” he stated. “I never imagined one day we will go international.”

Comptoir is working alongside airport dining specialist HMS Host, its partner in Holland, and will use the store to introduce Dutch customers to its range of Lebanese and Middle Eastern dishes.

Mr Kitous posted a video of the Utrecht store, which can be viewed below.

Earlier this month, Comptoir Group said it was proceeding with opening four new restaurants in the UK after raising £4m in funding from a share placement – and hopes to swell its coffers further with a sale and leaseback deal for its CPU.

The Lebanese restaurant chain plans to open two restaurants before the end of its current financial year in December and the other two in 2018.

It was seeking a minimum of £2m financing to fund this year’s projects, but the extra investment means it can continue to roll out new sites in 2018.

It expects to conclude a sale and leaseback of its freehold central processing unit (CPU) and will use the net proceeds to strengthen the group’s working capital position.

Although the timing to complete the transaction is unknown, it believes approximately £2m could be raised through the sale and leaseback of the CPU.

The share placement is a separate fundraising exercise to the CPU leaseback but both are designed to give it sufficient financial resource to carrying on expanding.

As and when the sale and leaseback of the CPU is completed, Comptoir said it will use these funds for general working capital purposes and to assess further new restaurant opportunities.

Figures for the first six months of the year show that Comptoir generated adjusted EBITDA of £200,000 on sales of £13.1m.

Comptoir currently owns and operates 23 restaurants, with a further two franchise sites.

The group opened a branch in Gloucester Road in January and Reading in July. Both are “trading in line with board expectation”, it said.

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