Comptoir Group saw its share price fall 28.5% yesterday after warning of an unexpected decline in like-for-like sales and profits at some of its mature restaurants.

The AIM-listed operator of the Comptoir Libanais, Shawa and Yalla Yalla brands issued a mid-morning update ahead of its annual general meeting on Wednesday, which said trading since its last report in April had continued to be “difficult”.

The company said that while it saw improved sales figures over the Easter weekend and half term, much of this benefit was lost in the final two weeks of the month. It said that in May it had “experienced an unexpected decline in like for like sales and profit at certain mature restaurants”, particularly in retail-led locations and at its higher-spend restaurants, Levant and Kenza.

It added that, although the group as a whole was seeing a progression in sales, a number of restaurants opened in 2016 remained behind expectations in terms of their anticipated maturity trading curve.

The update cited upward pressures on costs including incremental wage costs and related taxes (apprenticeship levy), higher food and drink costs (driven by depreciation in sterling versus the Euro) and increases in rent and business rates. Together with the softening in consumer spending, the group said these factors had had a significant impact on restaurant profitability and visibility over short-term trading trends. Comptoir said it had taken steps to limit the increase in central overheads.

The directors also confirmed that they expect to raise £2.7m from the sale and leaseback of the freehold of its central processing unit (CPU) in North London – the proceeds of which will be used to fund three further openings in 2017 – two Comptoirs in Reading and Oxford and a Shawa in Oxford

The company said: “The Directors believe the Comptoir brand continues to have a strong appeal to consumers and landlords and there remains considerable potential for expansion in the UK. The Company still expects to open 3 more restaurants before the end of 2017 - Comptoir Reading, Comptoir Oxford and Shawa Oxford - together with a first international franchise operation in the Netherlands with HMS Host.”

Comptoir Group currently operates 23 restaurants, 10 of which opened in the last 8 months, and 2 franchise locations.

It’s share price at the end of yesterday was 22.5p, down 9p on the start of the day. The group listed in June 2016 with a placing of 50p per share.

The company’s last update in April announced it was reducing its opening schedule for 2018, to four restaurants as it eyed a “cautious approach”.

The update follows a number of warnings from listed companies in the sector. Last month, Revolution Bars Group saw its share price fall more than 40% after admitting that newer sites were taking longer than expected to reach profitability, although it has since rallied. In April, the Jonathan Kaye-led Richoux group announced a net loss of £6.7m and a strategy to rebrand its core Dean’s Diner concept. In the same month, Tasty, the Wildwood operator, which is also backed by the Kayes, placed an eight-strong package of sites on the market. It followed a warning the month before that the company was cutting its openings programme and that headline operating profit was likely to fall in a ‘challenging’ 2017.