The Hugh Osmond-founded group, which also owns the Coppa Club and Tavolino brands, announced a rise in revenues ‘largely driven by new site openings’ in its latest trading update covering the 52 weeks ending 1 October 2023.
Revenue rose to £45.5m (unaudited) over the period, up from £40.7m the year before.
Site EBITDA (before pre-opening and IFRS16) is expected to be c.£3.8m (unaudited) with group EBITDA (before AIM costs of £0.6m) expected to be a loss of c.£1.6m (unaudited).
Group like-for-like sales, excluding the benefit of the reduced rate of VAT in the prior year, were maintained, despite the challenging macroeconomic environment, continued train strikes and unseasonably wet weather in the spring and summer months.
Cash at bank at 1 October 2023 was £1.9m (2022: £9.4m).
Andy Bassadone, executive chairman of Various Eateries, describes the group’s performance over the last 12 months as ‘steady’ with the traction Noci is building ‘a particular highlight’.
“While Noci is still a relatively small part of the group, we expect it to become an increasingly core part of our growth strategy going forwards,” he says.
Noci, which launched its first site in Islington in early 2022, is an evolution of the Tavolino concept that’s been designed with high street expansion in mind.
Like-for-like sales at the first Noci site grew 23% over the second half of the period (April-September 2023).
Additionally, Noci's second and third sites opened in Battersea Power Station and Shoreditch in May and September 2023 respectively and, according to the group, have both traded in line with management's expectations to date.
The board considers Noci to be ‘a very compelling near-term rollout opportunity’ and will focus initially on further openings in the Greater London area.
Various Eateries’ Coppa Club sites in Bath and Guildford also ‘delivered positive performances’ ahead of new site openings in Cardiff and Farnham, scheduled to open in the next year.
Meanwhile, the Group’s sole Tavolino site near London Bridge delivered like-for-like sales growth of 10%.
In terms of navigating the ongoing cost pressures affecting the sector, reducing operational costs and improving efficiency remain priorities for the group, along with exploring technological solutions.
The group adds that its focus on the top line as opposed to short-term profit maximisation is fundamental to the success of its roll out strategy and it continues to prioritise revenue and customer retention, deliberately not passing cost increases onto customers in full.
“We continue to believe our strategy of focusing on the top line will leave us in a stronger long-term position than many in our industry who have compromised their offerings to protect short-term profits,” continues Bassadone.
“Encouragingly, there are signs that some of the well-publicised pressures on margins are beginning to dissipate.
“Nonetheless, we continue to prioritise cost control and efficiency initiatives including leveraging new technology which will benefit the Group long after we emerge from the downturn.
“Looking to the year ahead, we intend to maintain a measured approach to opening new sites and, supported by strong and highly relevant brands, remain confident in our ability to accelerate progress as conditions improve."