Chez Gerard shows a tasty rise

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The Independent Online
GROUPE Chez Gerard, the restaurant chain, yesterday announced a 74 per cent increase in pre-tax profits in the year to June, writes James Bethell.

Neville Abraham, chairman and chief executive, told shareholders that he looked forward to building on the success by acquiring up to four restaurants a year.

The pounds 20m company owns seven expensive eateries in the centre of London, including Soho Soho, Cafe Fish and three under the name Chez Gerard.

It came to the market in March 1994 and in June spent pounds 380,000 of the proceeds on Scotts, the loss- making Mayfair restaurant.

Yesterday's results showed an increase in turnover from pounds 9.2m in 1993 to pounds 10.2m and in pre-tax profits from pounds 960,000 to pounds 1.6m. Earnings per share rose from 4.83p to 1.28p.

Yesterday Mr Abraham said he had stemmed the flood of money from Scotts. He reiterated the company's determination to exploit existing brands, possibly opening new restaurants under the Chez Gerard banner.

'It is a good time to go shopping,' Mr Abraham said. He added that, with the benefit of Brown's experience in running bars, the group might invest in a restaurant with a public drinking area.

'We want to concentrate on central London for at least two years.'

The City greeted the news enthusiastically, and the shares rose from 105p to 108p. 'The results are ahead of market expectations and we are pleased,' Paul Slattery of Kleinwort Benson, a buyer of the stock, said.

'The company is good at developing high-spend restaurants which it is also able to fill. They need to start replicating their initial success with addtional restaurants elsewhere.'

Jason Street, leisure analyst at Charterhouse Tilney Securities, was concerned by the cautious tone of the statement from the chairman. 'I am disappointed to hear market conditions are so bad,' he said.

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