Carluccio’s said there have been visible improvements to a number of metrics over the past three months, including like-for-like sales (lfls) and advance bookings, following what it described as a “transitional year” for the company.

In its latest set of accounts just filed at Companies House, the restaurant operator recorded a drop in sales of 4.3% for the full year to 23 September 2018, and saw lfls down 3.1% over the period, with a comparable sales softening following the CVA – a trend it said had continued into the current financial year.

Group EBITDA, before exceptional costs, stood at £4m for the period – excluding sites earmarked for closure following the CVA, against £4.4m the previous year.

As a result of the CVA, 14 UK stores closed during the period, with a further 15 closing since the year end leaving Carluccio’s with 74 locations in the UK and 16 international sites.

The business incurred material exceptional costs and impairments against the book value of restaurants, largely as a result of the CVA, totalling £20.4m at group level. The majority of these items were non-cash and pushed operating losses to £21.2m, it said.

Carluccio’s said that the previous financial year had been challenging, and while it had stabilised the business it was still relatively early on in the turnaround journey. It said its recovery was expected to continue with the acceleration of its “Fresca” refurbishment programme, alongside menu innovations and on-going operational improvements, “which pleasingly are also reflected in improving levels of customer sentiment scores”. Following the refurbishment of its Richmond site, further investments have been made at Bluewater Shopping Centre and Heathrow Terminal 5, with two more planned this summer.

The group’s principal shareholder, Landmark Group has supported these turnaround plans with an extra £10m cash injection.

Mark Jones, chief executive of Carluccio’s said that “by any stretch”, it had been a challenging period for the company. “We are extremely grateful for the resilience shown by our people, and for the support we have received from our investors and from our landlords in the restructuring of our restaurant portfolio.

“This has stabilised the business and given us the opportunity to restore and re-invigorate this great brand and we are very encouraged by the work we have undertaken to improve every facet of the business – including food quality and restaurant environments, and are pleased by the very strong and positive reaction to our initial investments.”