Las Iguanas, the 22-strong Latin American restaurant chain, has defied the recession with total sales growth of 21% and a 60% plus increase in pre-tax profit, writes Paul Charity. The company, which is owned by Bowmark Capital, saw pre-tax profit rise from £1.495,405 in 2009 to £2,407,401 in the year to 27 March 2010. Turnover climbed from £24.6m to £29.8m in the most recent year. A directors’ report states the business has “fared well delivering another year of positive like-for-like growth with group growth of 21%”. The statement added: “Given the business decision in 2008/2009 to slow down our expansion plans for 12 months as a result of the volatile economic climate only one site was opened, in Reading, this financial year. “This site has exceeded our expectations in terms of profit and return on capital employed. We believe the market place now offers good opportunities for continued expansion and and such we are actively pursuing a number of sites with the expectation of growing our estate in the coming financial year.” Directors Alan Craine and Ajith Jaya-Wickrema resigned during the year but remained shareholders. Bowmark has previously stated it would like to expand Las Iguanas to 40 sites. It acquired, with management, 100% of the share capital of Las Iguanas for £27 million in 2007. Las Iguanas operated 14 sites at the time. Bowmark Capital provided £10.5 million of equity to finance the acquisition with the balance provided by management and by senior debt facilities from The Royal Bank of Scotland. The transaction provided an exit for Piper Private Equity, which invested in the business in July 2002.