EAT, the Andrew Walker-led grab and go chain has said it has now seen eleven consecutive months of like-for-like growth, as its new SmartEAT format and estate rationalisation beds in.

This morning the Horizon-backed group published results for the year to 28 June 2018, in which like-for-like sales declined by 1.8% with a fall in total revenue of 4.3%

The group reported a loss after tax of £17.3m (2017: £18.9m loss) while delivering EBITDA of £3.2m.

However, the group said in the current financial year it is on track to grow EBITDA by nearly 50% and close to break-even at post-tax net profit level.

The company said the results showed the difficult trading conditions on the high street in 2017/2018 and stressed that it had taken steps to optimise its portfolio of stores, focusing on strategically selected, high footfall locations on high streets and in transport hubs such as airports and train stations. As part of the review, new stores were opened in Madrid Airport, Gare du Nord, and Liverpool Street Station.

The international expansion will continue in 2019, with new openings planned in Barcelona, Malaga, Alicante and Bahrain Airports, and Marne la Vallée and Gare du Nantes stations in France.

EAT has also undertaken a review of its food offer under executive chef Arnaud Kaziewicz as Executive Chef. Under Arnaud’s direction EAT.’s range of sandwiches, baguettes, wraps and salads have been upgraded and extended with the re-introduction of seasonal flavours.

The company has also completed its successful trial of a new “SmartEAT.” store format with hot self-service capability to improve speed of service and delivery. The like for like performance of SmartEAT stores has consistently been c.10% higher than other stores since they were upgraded, the company said.

The company is currently working with advisors, Spayne Lindsay to review its options in the long-term.

Chief executive Andrew Walker said: “Against a difficult backdrop on the UK high street we have delivered a good performance that lays the groundwork for future growth. The strength of EAT. has always been its innovative menu offering customers a huge choice for breakfast and lunch at reasonable prices. With our master chef Arnaud Kaziewicz in the kitchen the range on offer is better than ever.

“Our new SmartEAT. stores are dramatically improving speed of service and delivery, so we are looking forward to upgrading the rest of our stores to the new format.

“The improved store portfolio and capital structure together with upgraded stores and food offering are already delivering results, with eleven consecutive months of like for like growth.”