Comptoir Group has an opportunity to add to its pipeline due to the reduction in competition for premium sites, chief executive Chaker Hanna has said in its interim results.

Group revenue was down 6.9% for the half year ended 4 July, to £5.7m, compared to £6.1m last year, while gross profit was down 4.8% to £4.3m. Adjusted EBITDA was up 262.8%, from £0.45m to £1.6m, driven by a combination of government support and “exceptional cost control” across the business.

Hanna said that while the business has some exceptional challenges to face in the next trading period, which include the end to the furlough scheme, rates holiday and the normalisation of VAT, conversely there is an opportunity to add sites to its estate.

“This coupled with our excellent relationships with our current landlords allows us to some extent pick and choose where we may wish to increase our estate where we feel there is value in doing so,” he said.

The group currently owns and operates 21 restaurants, with another four operated under franchise agreements. Hanna said it intended to invest, not only in Comptoir Libanais, but also expand its QSR Shawa brand.

“This strategy has already commenced with the opening of our latest Shawa in Westfield Shepherds Bush in September.”

Hanna said that since reopening after lockdown this year, its trading performance has been “very strong with the group comfortably outperforming forecasts”. It has seen a solid performance in its London sites and its regional sites have outperformed pre-pandemic 2019 levels. “Importantly, all 21 sites are making a positive contribution at the profit level since reopening, highlighting the quality of the existing estate.”

Richard Kleiner, non-executive Chairman, said Comptoir had made strong progress over the six-month period and has been transforming the business through investment in systems and technology.

“As ever, we monitor and respond to these challenges as and when they occur. However, with strong sales since the phased reopening began in April, a relatively strong balance sheet and the potential for new openings, we are optimistic for the future and the long-term prospects for the business looks extremely positive,” he added.