Wildwood freezes new restaurant openings programme for 2018

Restaurant operator Wildwood confirmed this morning that it has no plans to open any new sites in 2018 – and is in fact more likely to dispose of underperforming sites first.

Owner Tasty Plc, which runs 54 Wildwood and six Dim t restaurants, said 2017 had been a “challenging” year across the sector but its decision last year to undertake a strategic review of the business had given it a clear picture of its operations.

“We identified a number of weaknesses in our operational structure and have begun to implement an 18-month plan to address these issues. In addition to this, we made the decision to dispose of a number of underperforming sites and suspend expansion while we make these operational improvements,” explained chairman Keith Lassman.

“In line with this strategy, since the beginning of 2017 the group has opened six new sites and has disposed of six sites. There are a number of sites that the group is still planning to dispose of and at present the group is not committed to any new openings in 2018.”

Mr Lassman said that Tasty is focused on executing the planned operational improvements and is now seeing better customer engagement and staff retention. Last year it launched an apprenticeship scheme to support and enhance its improved staff training scheme, which will be expanded throughout 2018.

He admitted the Tasty board does not expect market conditions to improve in 2018 and believes that a further deterioration is likely.

“Underlying input costs will continue to rise and consumer spending will face increased pressures. The group’s next round of operational improvements are targeting improvements in the areas of sales, food and labour margins, however it will be some time before the full benefit of these changes is felt and financial performance in 2018 is very unlikely to see any improvement on 2017.”

Tasty racked up adjusted EBITDA of £3.5m on sales of £50.3m last year.

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