Apostrophe, the patisserie café chain, saw pre-tax loss widen in the year to 31 August 2011, despite turnover climbing 2.6% to £6.1m. The 18-strong company, in which catering group CH&Co acquired a 50% stake in last month, saw its pre-tax loss reach £225k up from £221k the previous year, on the back of a 29.6% increase in administrative expenses and a rise in costs. The group, which is led by Amir Chen, said that like-for-like sales through the year were positive, driven by strong performance across most of its sites. It said that it had experienced “a healthy growth” in turnover in the first quarter of its current financial year, with strong like-for-like growth across most sites. During the year, the company invested £50k in fixed assets and repaid £120,000 of bank debt, funded by cash from operating activities. Administrative expenses increased by 29.6% mainly due to higher level fees resulting from a dispute with HMRC regarding historical VAT calculations. It also incurred a higher recruitment charge as it embarked upon a management recruitment drive. It said that its gross profit rose by 2.3% as a result of limited raw material price increases. As part of the new joint venture CH&Co has acquired a master franchise agreement from Apostrophe, which will allow the caterer to operate the brand at its catering venues, including popular visitor attractions and office environments. It is believed that a number of other caterers are weighing up making similar opportunities to enter the high street market. Two new Apostrophe outlets are set to open in the City in the next few months.