Pizza chain plans growth

The owner of Pizza Express said today it planned to open up to 30 new restaurants in the coming year after seeing sales and profits rise.

The owner of Pizza Express said today it planned to open up to 30 new restaurants in the coming year after seeing sales and profits rise.

Gondola Holdings already has 520 outlets under the Pizza Express, ASK and Zizzi brands, but is looking for another 25 to 30 by next summer.

Announcing results for the year to July 2, Gondola said restaurant sales rose by 7% to £384.4m, with the figure when excluding changes in trading space showing a 4.1% gain. Underlying profits were up 6.3% to £89.2m.

Gondola, which is a takeover target for private equity group Cinven, said like-for-like sales were ahead 7.1% in the past 11 weeks, although it put some of the gain down to the impact of the London bombings on trading last year.

The company, which employs 11,000 people and serves an estimated 31 million meals a year, said its strong performance reflected the power of its brands, as well as its focus on "restaurant basics", including service standards.

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