Wildwood cancels £5m credit facility earmarked for new restaurant openings

Tasty Plc, the owner of the Wildwood casual dining brand, has cancelled an unutilised £5m revolving credit facility that was previously earmarked for new restaurant openings.

The decision is aimed at reducing its financing costs and will save the business around £35,000 per annum.

Bosses at the firm said they have no plans to open any new sites at the current time and, in line with a change in strategy from “accelerated to suspended expansion”, they are seeking to optimise its capital structure with a view to utilising the proceeds of property disposals to reduce gearing.

Tasty, which runs 60 restaurants, has been implementing turnaround strategies in under-performing sites, but where such measures are not successful, or it feels it can realise maximum value, it will attempt to dispose of those properties.

The board implemented “major operational structural changes” back in February, which has led to the closure of three sites, but it claims to be seeing early signs of improvements, which it expects to continue into the second half of the year.

A restructuring of the operational team has resulted in annualised cost savings of approximately £300,000 per annum, while the firm said that it is putting menu development and improvement at the heart of its strategy to keep the brand relevant.

“We continue to innovate and review and are constantly looking at ways of making the offer more exciting including vegan and gluten free menus,” explained chairman Keith Lassman.

Sales during the six months to 1 July declined 6% year-on-year to £23m, while pre-tax losses increased slightly to £309,000.

The company said it has invested in its training infrastructure and launched additional apprenticeship programmes, which will be expanded over the next six months.

For every level of the team, it will be introducing a comprehensive career pathway to support development, enhance job satisfaction and increase staff retention.

“Market conditions remain difficult, but we are starting to see the benefits of the infrastructure changes that have been, and continue to be, implemented,” insisted Mr Lassman.

“Our focus will continue to be growing sales and maximising value. We have a dedicated team that is leading the group through the challenges we are facing and we would like to thank all of them for their hard work. The directors believe that our restaurants are appealing to customers and, once the economic climate has improved, the Group is well placed to resume growth.”

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