Wildwood tweaks menus and reduces dishes as margin pressure bites

Wildwood Peterborough

Tasty Plc, the owner of the Wildwood and Dim T restaurant brands, has gone back to its development kitchen to implement a major menu restructure as part of measures to cut costs and overcome margin pressure.

The move is part of a strategy that also includes shutting underperforming stores and matching the promotional activity of rivals as it faces up to what it calls a “weak trading environment”.

Chairman Keith Lassman confirmed that changes had been made in the kitchen.

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“We have carried out a major review of our menus taking into account customer feedback to ensure, the offering remains current and in line with our customers’ tastes and we are in the best position to maintain and increase our market share,” he explained.

Mr Lassman said Tasty had reduced the overall number of dishes on the menu, along with improving the recipes of over a third of the items.

Tasty is currently trading from 65 restaurants after opening four new sites this year. However, as revealed by FEJ last month, it is set to axe sites that have not responded positively to turnaround measures it has implemented.

“We are currently in the process of disposing of some sites and are marketing others which have not shown significant signs of improvement,” said Mr Lassman.

Tasty is due to open two more sites imminently but no further restaurants are planned for 2017. The board has also ruled out opening any sites in 2018. “The pace of the roll out has been scaled back in the current climate and the group will be reviewing its functions to ensure cost savings,” said Lassman.

Half-year sales increased 12% year-on-year to £24m, but like-for-like sales declined. Headline operating profit was up to £544,000 from a loss of £1.9m the year before, but overall losses after tax hit £9.3m, which was almost entirely down to an impairment charge that the group took following a review of its estate.

Mr Lassman said the board believes the sector as a whole has been suffering due to a slowdown in consumer spending since the beginning of 2017 and this is set to continue into 2018. “This is not unique to the group or any particular area but appears to be a nationwide problem particularly evident in London and has impacted turnover and profit,” he said.

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