Tasty, which operates Wildwood and Dim T restaurants, saw sales decline by 8% for the 26 weeks to 30 June 2019, to £21.1m (2018: £23m).

Adjusted EBITDA was £0.1m for the period, compared with £0.8m for the same period last year, however loss after tax had reduced from £10.7m last year, to £0.8m in H1 2019.

The business raised £3.2m through an institutional placing and open offer to existing shareholders in May this year, and has reduced bank debt to £1.9m as at 30 June 2019 (1 July 2018: £7.0m).

Keith Lassman, chairman, Tasty, said group’s sales performance has been weak despite benefiting from weaker comparatives following last year’s extreme weather conditions and the World Cup.

“However, despite sales being down, our adjusted EBITDA performance for the first six months is in-line with expectations due to tighter cost control,” he said.

“Over the last 18 months we have made significant changes to the structure of the group including finance and operational team enhancement. The changes to the operational structure combined with the group’s increased focus on the financial reporting and cost management, has mitigated the impact of the difficult market conditions.

The business currently operates 57 Wildwood and six Dim T restaurants, having closed three trading sites in the first six months of the year. In addition, it sub-let two sites that were not trading – one in the first half of the year and one post period end.

The business said it had generally found landlords to be co-operative and supportive with our collaborative approach has been well received. “We have been successful in achieving rent reductions and lease concessions,” said the group, which added that it would continue to review the estate with further disposals to be made if appropriate.

No openings are planned for the remainder of 2019, with the focus agreed by the board to remain on optimising the performance of the existing estate.

Lassman said the business had undertaken various initiatives to improve the food and drink offering, customer engagement and the development of our employees, including a focus on recruitment in order to boost service standards and upselling. It is rolling out workshops across the estate to ensure all restaurants are offering consistent service which is appealing to our customers.

Tasty has also trialled the Beyond Meat vegan burger as part of its specials menu – which will move to its main menu later this year.

Despite the challenges in the UK restaurant market, the group said it was well positioned, with a rationalised estate, new operational structure and a heightened focus on cost controls.

“The refreshed Wildwood and dim t offerings continue to be attractive to consumers, with encouraging trading in the first few weeks of the second half,” said Lassman. “The Group is traditionally weighted to the second half, with December being the most important month of the year, which will significantly dictate the Group’s overall performance. However, the Board currently expects adjusted EBITDA performance for the full year to remain in-line with expectations.”