EAT, the Lyceum Capital-backed chain, has confirmed that at the start of this year it restructured its balance sheet, reducing its debt and increasing equity by £94.5m.

The group, which reported that 2016 had been a “challenging year”, said that the debt for equity swap demonstrated Lyceum’s confidence in the business in the face of significant sector headwinds, and “creates a much stronger platform for future growth, providing funds for both investment and expansion”.

As revealed by MCA earlier this week, the company experienced a c2% decline in like-for-like sales in the run up to the end of financial year to the end of June 2016. Like-for-like sales for the year in total grew 1.7%, however EBITDA stood at £3.6m and was “below expectations” and down from £5.7m in 2015.

Turnover for the year to June 2016 climbed from £99.4m to £101.1m, while pre-tax losses narrowed from £20.1m to £2.1m.

The company said that finance was provided by way of a £40m bank loan facility, whilst it also had access to an additional £5m revolving credit facility. Lyceum has backed the chain since 2011,

Under the stewardship of Andrew Walker, who became the chain’s chief executive last summer, the c110-strong group saw like-for-like sales increase 9.3% to the end of February 2017.

A relaunch of the group’s salad offer has led to a 30% rise in sales, whilst its new toasties range has led to a c60% uplift in sales.

The group is believed to be in talks on a number of sites in transport hubs across the UK, and is also understood to be in discussion regarding a first international opening in Barcelona. It is expected that one of the new UK transport hub sites will feature an update on the concepts branding.

The company said it had secured a new franchise agreement with Compass, with the first store under the new deal set to open this spring.

Walker, former managing director of Pret A Manger UK, took over from Adrian Johnson as chief executive of EAT last June. He has made a number of changes to the group’s management team since, including the appointments of Mike Rainer, formerly of Mothercare and Blue Inc, as its new finance director; and Said Takhamt, formerly of Itsu, as director of operations.

The company has simplified its head office structure, with all of its head office team now reporting directly into Walker.