Domino’s Pizza UK & Ireland has this morning said that it is faring well in the tougher economic environment as UK consumers elect to eat out less often, and instead use its home delivery service. The comments came as the group unveiled like-for-like sales growth of 11.4% for the past six months, against growth of 14.9% last time. It also announced profits up more than 30% on sales up almost 20%. It said: “These results have been achieved in a significantly tougher trading environment than the comparative period last year and we are pleased that our business has proved to be resilient. “Identifying the reasons for this and the likelihood they will continue is difficult as the previous similar experience is so long ago and our business is now very different. “However, the trend we are witnessing so far is that many consumers are ‘trading down’, which in our industry means that they are eating out less often and staying at home. “Once these consumers have decided to stay at home, Domino’s has the opportunity to serve them and with the combination if a great product, excellent service and effective marketing, we have achieved record levels of system sales.” Announcing interim results, the home delivery business revealed that in the six months to 29 June 2008 pre-tax profits rose 32.7% on sales that were up 19.5% to £170.2m. Its online sales had risen 85.1% to £25.3m, representing almost a quarter of all Domino’s delivered pizza sales in the UK. Domino’s also spoke of the challenge of food and energy price inflation that was facing its business. It said that while the significant food-cost increases felt last year had been passed on through franchisees to consumers, further modest price rises were likely. It said: “This will present a challenge in a tightening market but as these pressures will be felt by all food providers, from supermarkets to restaurants, such increases will not put us at a competitive disadvantage and we feel that they can be managed across the system.” During the period it opened 25 stores – five more than last year – taking its estate to 526 stores. It expected to open a further 25 in the second half. In addition to new stores, 51 locations changed hands between franchisees for a total of £17.9m. The average number of stores per franchisee was up from 3.2 to 3.8. The group said it planned to spend a total of £18m on national advertising this year. Its high-profile sponsorship of ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent had helped generate sales and drive brand awareness, it said. During the six months, the group returned £7.7m to shareholders.