Strada axes a third of its branches over profitability fears

The New Year has brought confirmation of the first major wave of restaurant closures, with Italian chain Strada revealing that it is shutting 10 sites – more than a third of its estate.

The company said the closures follow a comprehensive review of its 26-strong store network, with bosses ruling that the affected sites were no longer viable in the “increasingly competitive market”.

It cited rising rents, wages and business rates as cost challenges that it had found difficult to overcome. The company added that the conditions made it hard to profitably operate a full service restaurant serving fresh food.

Branches in Blackheath, Camden, Cardiff, Clapham, Cobham, Harpenden, Newbury and York have already closed. Horsham and the Mailbox site in Birmingham are set to shut this month, according to The Telegraph.

A spokesman told the paper that it planned to convert three of the sites into a new format – most likely Coppa Club – but would look to sell the other seven.

This will leave the chain with 16 Strada restaurants although two of these are operated under license by Las Iguanas owner Casual Dining Group.

Companies House figures show that the average size of Strada’s store portfolio has decreased for the last three years. In 2015 it operated 41 stores, with that figure decreasing to 37 in 2016.

Sales in its last full financial year, for the 12 months to 2 October 2016, totalled £33.8m, down 15% on the previous year.

The Strada spokesman said that it would be “accelerating” its opening programme for Coppa Club and would also be investing in its remaining Strada restaurants to ensure they remain successful.

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