City Centre adds Nachos to menu

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The Independent Online
The Nachos chain of Mexican restaurants in London is being added to the diverse menu of outlets operated by City Centre Restaurants. The seven-strong Nachos chain is being bought for £5.4m from New York New York Restaurants.

City Centre operates 178 other restaurants, comprising 42 Garfunkel's, 104 Deep Pan Pizza, 13 Chiquito, eight Caffe Uno, five diners and a few other ribs outlets.

James Naylor, chief executive, said the Nachos chain fitted well with the group. The sites are slightly smaller than the Chiquito sites, more bar-orientated and have a younger customer profile.

Results for 1994 were also announced by City Centre, showing that the group recovered strongly. Profits before tax rose 11.3 per cent to £14.1m, although growth was mostly attributable to the addition of new sites. "Like-for-like results were much the same. There is low inflation. We are not putting prices up and customers are still looking for value," Mr Naylor said.

Total turnover was £103.4m, up from £95.2m. The recovery in the past five months has spilled into 1995, and trading results so far this year are ahead of the comparable period.

Capital expenditure topped £11m last year and Mr Naylor said he would be surprised if the figure for 1995 did not rise to at least £18m, and possibly £20m.

There are plans to open another 20 sites this year, excluding the start- up of a chain of roadside diners. The company is also going to roll out a new format for its pizza business.

"Pizza is still profitable but there is too much around. We are extending the menu, with more pasta and other Italian dishes," Mr Naylor said.

City Centre has ample cash to fund its development and refurbishment programmes. The cash pile grew in 1994 from £14m to £26.8m.

Shareholders are being rewarded with a 12.4 per cent increase in the dividend to 2p. The cover is unchanged at 2.51 times, with earnings per share up from 4.52p to 5.01p.