Fulham Shore expects to spend less money opening new restaurants because it is being swamped with offers to take over vacant units that are already fitted out.
The company, which owns Franco Manca and The Real Greek, has consistently said that it believes now is a good time to expand due to greater availability for premises as a result of Covid-19.
And this approach appears to have a major cost benefit in terms of the amount of capital it usually has to invest in equipping new sites.
It said that many of the restaurant locations it is seeing are available as a result of insolvency events and, consequently, are pre-existing fitted units.
Sites of this nature typically have a lower opening cost to the group compared to shell units.
It therefore anticipates a reduction in the group’s average capital expenditure per new site in the short term, and said that this should improve its return on capital.
Bosses at the group said they continue to be presented with a number of “excellent” potential retail locations “almost on a daily basis”.
In the last two weeks, it has inspected sites in many towns and cities across the UK including London, York, Durham, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cardiff, Liverpool and Manchester.
It is currently in the process of building two new Franco Manca pizzeria on High Holborn in London and Mitchell Street in the Merchant City, Glasgow, with opening dates scheduled for June 2021.
“The board believes that the next few months may be the most exciting in the group’s short history and looks forward to opening our restaurants fully once permitted and capitalising on the property opportunities that are being presented to us,” the company said in a trading update.
Since lockdown restrictions eased on 12 April, Fulham Shore has reopened 70 out of its 72 Franco Manca and The Real Greek restaurants for various combinations of al fresco dining, delivery and collection services.
Currently, 37 out of the 52 operational Franco Manca pizzeria and 16 out of the 18 operational The Real Greek restaurants have outside tables.