Pizza Express have posted disappointing first half profits in the UK and Ireland with sales growing at a very slow rate compared with international levels.
Compared with international sales growth of 11.5%, sales only rose by 0.5% domestically, with like-for-like sales up to 0.2%.
However the Yum! Brands owned firm said that the results were ‘resilient’ against the backdrop of a difficult trading environment.
Pizza Express also said that the first half of the year saw it focus on upgrading existing sites, with further development of its “Future Express” programme, expanding its vegan offering and strengthening relationships with partners such as Deliveroo.
Jinlong Wang, group chairman and chief executive officer of PizzaExpress, said: “Although we are not immune to the cautious consumer environment in the UK and Ireland, we are pleased to have delivered positive sales growth of +0.5% and a largely flat like-for-like sales performance.”
“We are taking a measured approach to growing our business in the UK and Ireland, and in the first half we opened a net two new sites. We are now planning to focus our capital investment on upgrading our existing estate rather than adding more sites.
“The re-opening of our Langham Place restaurant earlier this year kickstarted our “Future Express” programme, in which we are creating more sociable pizzerias and a more inviting dining environment, with, for example a greater focus on our kitchens, a refreshed customer service approach and new uniforms.
“We have now refurbished a further six sites and are pleased with the increased sales performance we have seen to date with a greatly enhanced customer experience generating very positive feedback.”
He concluded: “Looking ahead, whilst we expect both the UK and Ireland and International markets to remain challenging, we are confident in our ability to successfully appeal to customers and believe that we will continue to deliver a resilient performance across the remainder of 2019.”