Carluccio's opening gambit pays off

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The Independent Online

The Italian restaurant and delicatessen chain Carluccio's served up a 21 per cent rise in underlying first-half profits yesterday after listing on the stock market in December.

Carluccio's managing director, Simon Kossoff, said the chain was doing well because it stays open longer than other restaurant chains - from 8am to 11pm - and gets half its turnover from serving coffee in the mornings and selling pasta and other Italian food across its 26 outlets. He said: "It's a growth story. The new stores are getting profitable very quickly, almost immediately." Carluccio's is opening five restaurants a year and intends to have 50 to 60 in five years. Pre-tax profits rose to £2m in the six months to 27 March excluding float costs of £900,000, from £1.6m a year ago. Turnover climbed 21 per cent to £21.6m.

The group said trading was unaffected by a smoking ban imposed in April after a trial at five restaurants after consultation with customers. In any case, a quarter of the chain's seats are on pavements where people can smoke.

The company is confident it can meet analyst forecasts of £45.5m in turnover and £4.1m in pre-tax profits for the year.