Fulham Shore, which operates Franco Manca and The Real Greek, is expecting revenue and EBITDA to be above pre-Covid levels for the year ended 27 March 2022, with 18 new sites planned for this year.

In an update ahead of its full year results, to be published in July, the group said strong trading momentum and expansion during the year meant that revenue, EBITDA and adjusted headline EBITDA are expected to be ahead of last year’s figures, “and comfortably ahead of market expectations”.

The board said it believes these expectations are currently revenue of £73.4m, EBITDA of £16.5m and adjusted headline EBITDA of £9.5m.

It said that following the removal of all restrictions in Feb 2022, customers have continued to return to the group’s restaurants in increasing numbers.

Both Franco Manca and The Real Greek delivered strong underlying performances, said the board, in the face of disruption from trading restrictions and the Omicron variant.

The group continued its expansion during the period, opening 10 new restaurants, comprised of seven Franco Mancas and three The Real Greeks.

The group also opened two franchised Franco Manca restaurants in Athens, Greece, during the year, in line with its international strategy.

A 24th Real Greek is just about to open in Newcastle and five Franco Manca sites are currently in development, in Stockbridge, Edinburgh, Kingston upon Thames, Canterbury, and in Manchester (on King Street and in Didsbury).

In addition, 19 proposed new Franco Manca’s are in legal negotiations with openings planned in the summer and autumn of this year, with five The Real Greek sites also in legals. Overall, the group anticipates opening 18 new restaurants across the financial year ending March 2023.

The board said it managed to mitigate the increase cost of raw materials and transport costs through small price increases, “and generated better results than the board had previously anticipated at the half year”.

The company’s net cash position at 25 March 2022 was £4m – having improved its cash balance despite 10 openings – with the group having access to undrawn bank facilities of £15.9m.

Planned openings will continue to be financed primarily through internally generated cash flow.

The board said it was still considering formulating a dividend policy during the coming financial year, reflecting its continued confidence in the outlook for Fulham Shore.