Luke Johnson, the chairman of Patisserie Holdings, has stressed that the company is “well placed to make acquisitions” as it revealed strong results for the year to 30 September.

The Patisserie Valerie operator saw revenue rise 13.3% to £104.1m with EBITDA up 18.1% to £22.2m and pre-tax profits growing 18.2% to £17.2m.

The group opened 21 new stores in the year from operating cash flows including flagship stores in Belfast, Birmingham Resorts World and London’s Oxford Street, taking its estate to 184 stores. The openings programme included five high street sites, five shopping centres, three retail parks, two motorway service stations and six Debenhams concession stores. Three stores were closed during the period, due to leases expiring.

Six new stores have opened since the year end, contracts have been exchanged on two more and the group is in advanced negotiations on nine further sites. The target continues to be 20 new store openings per annum.

The group strengthened its head office during the year including the appointment of former EAT chief executive, Adrian Johnson, as managing director of the Patisserie Valerie brand, as revealed by MCA earlier this month.

Other key appointments include:

- Head of Production to implement the group’s production strategy;

- Group Marketing Manager to drive store marketing programme;

- Head of Group Brand Loyalty to introduce a loyalty scheme;

- Group Health, Safety and Environment Manager to reduce business risk

- Head of Procurement to manage supply chain

Revenues from the 135-strogn Patisserie Valerie brand grew 17.6% during the year, to £73.9m with sales at other brands up 4.1%.

Chief executive Paul May said the introduction of an Afternoon Tea offer during the past year had become one of its most successful offerings, with 133,000 sold, generating sales of £2.3m. A number of variants have been introduced and the group will be launching a Festive Afternoon Tea for the Christmas period.

May said the online channel continued to grow with digital sales of £3.8m up by 23% (2015 £3.1m). Cake Club membership has grown to 361,000 members an increase of 18% and the group has also developed a growing social media following.

The group said its cost base had remained relatively stable in the year with a gross profit margin at 78.1% (2015: 77.3%). Margin has benefitted from food deflation over the last few years and May said the company was now beginning to see ingredient prices harden.

May said that as anticipated, the largest cost pressure this year has been National Living Wage (NLW) which had a full year impact of £0.5m. However, the introduced a more efficient labour rostering method in the year which has almost offset this increase. The increase to minimum wage from 1 October 2016 will be £0.1m and May said he would continue to monitor and react appropriately to future increases in the NLW.

Given the group’s strategy of growth outside of London, it anticipates that cost increases from the changes to Business Rates from April 2017 will be marginal.

Luke Johnson said: “The excellent results for the year show the continuing appeal of our brands, the financial strength of the group and the strong cash generative nature of our business model. We have achieved growth in revenues and profits despite uncertain economic conditions and for the first time we have exceeded revenues of £100m: a significant achievement. Our roll-out programme continues to deliver successful store openings and I am particularly pleased with the performance of our first store in Northern Ireland. Our strategy remains that of organic growth; however we are well positioned to make acquisitions should any suitable opportunities arise. Performance for the first eight weeks of the year has been encouraging and we have already opened six new stores. We have a strong pipeline for the year ahead with a number of promising locations already secured. We will continue to control costs and manage our supply chain in this period of macro-economic uncertainty, thus I am confident of another successful year of growth

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