Owner of ‘First Dates’ restaurant comes back to earth with a bump after posting record revenues

Paternoster Chophouse

Restaurant group D&D has bucked the trend of operators blaming Brexit for softening financial results by recording the highest turnover in its history, but warned that it has found the last few months tough.

The group, which operates a string of restaurants in London, Leeds, Paris, New York and Tokyo, posted sales of £125m for the year to 31 March 2017, an increase of 16%. EBITDA rose 1% to £13.1m.

Overall UK like-for-like sales increased 3%, the firm said, with revenues from a full year of German Gymnasium and 100 Wardour Street offset by a revenue reduction at Bluebird as a result of its closure for refurbishment.

Quaglinos and Guastavinos in New York both delivered 11% increases in sales, while Paternoster Chophouse at St. Paul’s – better known as the ‘First Dates’ restaurant due to its use in the hit TV series – saw sales surge 25%.

Des Gunewardena, chairman and CEO of D&D London, said the group is satisfied with its full-year performance given trading conditions over the past 12 months.

“In a year of great political and economic uncertainty surrounding Brexit and in the context of cost inflation on all fronts, we were pretty happy with these results. £125m was our highest ever annual revenue. In terms of new ventures German Gymnasium has been one of our most successful openings of recent years and our various recent refurbishments, such as 100 Wardour Street and Bluebird, though adversely impacting short term profits, will contribute to growing profits in future years despite potentially strong economic headwinds.”

Mr Gunewardena said the current financial year had started well for the business but a poor late summer weather-wise had held back revenue growth.

“The pattern of trading we are experiencing is volatile with strong months interspersed with relatively poor months. Underlying revenues in June were strongly up on last year, but August and September have been disappointing. We expect this uncertain pattern of trading to continue in the short term but we remain firmly confident about D&D’s prospects long term.”

Mr Gunewardena added that the firm was continuing to invest in “significant new” projects both in the UK and overseas. These include the launch of Fiume in Battersea Power Station this November, a rooftop restaurant at Spinningfields in Manchester, and the opening of Bluebird at Columbus Circus in New York.

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