Gourmet Holdings, the former coffee bar operator that has re-invented itself as a pub-restaurant group, has this morning reported interim results showing like-for-like sales growth of 7.3%. Ebitda (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) for the group, which operates the Richoux and Bel and the Dragon restaurant brands, rose 23.4% to £0.57m, on sales up 1.2% to £5.35m. On a pre-tax level, profits were £0.31m, down from £1.07m last time. During the period the group acquired three more leasehold sites that will be converted to the Bel and the Dragon gastropub concept by the year-end. It also secured a call option to buy the freeholds of the pubs as part of the deal. It spent £0.46m in total on acquisitions and capital expenditure during the period. Gourmet has cash funds of £2.29m to fund further purchases. Nigel Whittaker, chairman, said: “I am pleased that we have delivered another set of good financial results which notably were driven from both the improvements of our continuing operations and a good maiden contribution from Bel and the Dragon.” Of the group's decision to exit the coffee bar market last year - it was formerly known as Madisons Coffee - to focus on the eating out market, Whittaker said: “These result supports our decision to focus on restaurants and the board has confidence that there continues to be good growth prospects for the group.” Gourmet recorded an exceptional profit of £0.1m (2004: £0.87m) from the sale of properties connected to its coffee business. Central costs during the 28 weeks to 9 January were £0.39m against £0.35m last time. The group said it had sufficient infrastructure to grow without further increases in costs. On a divisional basis, turnover from "continuing operations" increased by 7.3 per cent to £2.83m, while turnover at Bel and the Dragon plus the new sites acquired for conversion, was £2.52m. Gross profit is now stated net of all associated restaurant costs in line with other companies in the sector, the group said. Accordingly prior year comparable figures were re-stated. Gross profit from the restaurants increased by 37.4 per cent to £0.67m (2004: £0.49m). The company is not recommend a dividend, instead it will continue to invest in the continued development of the business.