Comptoir cautious on store projects after seeing counterparts fall victim to difficult times

Comptoir Grand Central, Birmingham, illustration

Comptoir Group said this morning that any forthcoming additions to its store portfolio would likely come from franchise arrangements.

The Lebanese and Mediterranean restaurant chain has not yet opened any additional new sites this year and admitted it is continuing to develop its property pipeline with “caution”.

However, terms have been agreed on three new franchised sites with its partner HMS Host in Ashford, UK and Dubai Airport, which will open in the second half of the year, and a third site in Abu Dhabi airport in the first half of 2020.

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The group expects to end 2019 with 6 franchised operations.

With a cash balance of £3.4m at the end of June, Comptoir group remains in a strong position to fund new openings but chairman Chaker Hanna said it intends to remain cautious and acquire new sites through internally generated cash, while seeking to maintain its healthy cash position.

“We remain cautious and committed to only invest in the sites which fit within the attributes associated with our most successful restaurants and that would contribute positively from their first full year of trading. Further we expect future sites to further enhance the group’s brand and identity.”

It is in advanced negotiations for one new location in 2019, while other potential sites are being reviewed to strengthen its pipeline for 2020.

In the meantime, the 25-strong company, which made sales of £15.8m in the first half of the year, it plans to continue carrying out selective refurbishments in the existing estate.

Up until April this year, the business had been supported by teams across three separate locations. There is now one consolidated head office support team based in new offices in London Bridge, which Comptoir said has already enabled it to achieve further efficiencies.

Richard Kleiner, non-executive chairman, said the company’s approach would allow it to prove its resilience in a challenging and uncertain market.

“The consistent, differentiated offering from Comptoir sets the business apart from the majority of operators, a number of which continue to struggle and have fallen victim to these difficult times.

“Maintaining an evolving menu with a delicious, healthy and importantly value for money offering has helped ensure growth, whilst at the same time the focus on cost efficiencies has had a positive effect on financial stability including a healthy cash position and robust balance sheet.”

THE BIG INTERVIEW: Tony Kitous, Comptoir Libanais

Tags : Comptoir GroupComptoir LebanesefranchiseRestaurants
Andrew Seymour

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