Wagamama chief executive David Campbell has said that the company has experienced no discernible impact from Brexit.
In a presentation to bondholders on the back of the group’s Q1 results, Campbell said: “We think there are opportunities in the short and medium term. Like-for-like sales growth was 9.6% before Brexit and 9.3% in the period after.”
He said that the group’s strong position “allows us to invest in our service training and ensure we have enough people on (while others may be cutting costs)”.
He also said that in terms of further opportunities, the company, which will roll out a new loyalty tool this quarter, would use its strong covenant to get better real estate and sell “our people brand better to recruit and retain best staff in the industry”.
The company has new openings planned in in Peterborough, Ipswich and St Paul’s London during the current quarter and is believed to be in advanced talks on a site in Covent Garden.
It also said it had a good forward pipeline in company owned UK and US, and also franchise, with a focus on “EBITDA driven, strong profile, urban biased sites”.
Average unit volume is now £38,700 compared to £30,700 in 2014/2015 and £34.8k in 2015/2016.
Yesterday, the Duke Street Capital-backed chain, reported a 9.8% increase in like-for-like sales in the first quarter of its current financial year, with total sales up 16.6% on the previous year to £75.6m.
Restaurant EBITDA in the period to 14 August stood at £16.5m and adjusted EBITDA at £12.1m during the quarter, which were both in double-digit growth.
The company, which recently had ratings upgrades from both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, said that its lfl sales had been ahead of the competition for 120 consecutive weeks and come on the back of two strong prior years (Q1 FY16: 13.1%, Q1 FY15: 9.2%).
The group said that “active estate management” was driving average unit volumes.
In the US, the group’s three Boston sites experienced continued strong LFL growth at 10.8%.
During the period, the company opened three new UK sites in Bromley, Staines and London Bankside, whilst its Heathrow T5 rebuild site opened “successfully, achieving three company weekly sales records in a row”. Internationally, the group opened franchise sites in Cyprus (Ayia Napa), Gibraltar, and Netherlands (Rotterdam) in the period.
The company said its New York City flagship site remains on target to open later this quarter.
David Campbell will be talking to MCA at this year’s Restaurant Conference about the evolution of Wagamama and key factors behind the group’s impressive performance over the last two years. He will also be sharing an exclusive video of the group’s New York City flagship restaurant. The all-day conference, which focuses on the evolving culture of eating out, and how developing a people-led culture will increasingly separate the winners from the losers, takes place on 29 September at the Gran Connaught Rooms in Covent Garden, London. For more information and to book for this years conference please contact Teresa Norman on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01293 846521.