Sports Café, the large-scale bar concept that was recently in sale talks, has said this morning that it intends to grow through the development of other brands and by making acquisitions. Recognising the limited opportunities in the UK for its eponymous brand – which is built around showing live televised sport and typically requires 15,000sq ft of trading space – the group said its expansion strategy would include complementary brands and smaller sites for Sports Café. It said it would target other groups of less than 50 sites. The new strategy is something of a departure for a group that recently held abortive sale talks with an unnamed party, thought to be a trade rival. Unveiling full-year results for the 52 weeks to 31 December, it said: “Given the fragmented market it is unsurprising that there has been a great deal of consolidation and corporate activity in this sector during the last five years and this activity is expected to continue in the foreseeable future.” In what was a football World Cup year, ebitda from continuing operations climbed from £980,000 to £1.3m, on sales up 29% to £18.2m. Operating losses from continued operations narrowed slightly, from £692,000 the previous year to £553,000. However this number did not include losses that stemmed from the closure of an online gaming venture, which sent the group a further £303,000 into the red. The company said that while it had not yet moved into profitability, operating activities had generated £1.2m and it had remained within the terms of its banking covenants. During the year Sports Café, which now has eight locations following the launch of a site in Bristol, grew operating margins one percentage point to 74%. Like-for-like sales were flat. The group said it expected the upcoming smoking ban to impact the whole sector, with a short-term drop in sales of 5%. It expected sales to return to normal levels within a three-to-six-month period. The company announced in February the appointment of Peter Marks, who has previously held senior positions with First Leisure and Luminar, as its news CEO. Marks replaced Bill Balkou, who took up the position of development director. Sports Café said that following a quiet start to the year, sales had returned to the levels of last year, and said that it was looking forward to a strong year of sport, particularly the Rugby World Cup in the autumn.