More Sports Cafés in Akers' line-up

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The Independent Online

Chris Akers' latest business venture, Coliseum Group, is to roll out a nationwide chain of sports-themed bars under the Sports Café banner.

The group, which floated on AIM as a cash shell last year, expects to open 10 Sports Cafés by the end of next year, starting with a new site in Manchester in time for the Commonwealth Games in August.

Coliseum – the brainchild of veteran entrepreneurs Chris Akers and Rodger Sargent – acquired the three existing Sports Café outlets, in London, Birmingham and Cardiff, last December for £8m.

It announced the closure of the Cardiff site yesterday, which it plans to relocate from the residential Cardiff Bay area to the town centre. Mr Sargent, the finance director, said the brand had created "lots of goodwill" in Cardiff, but was underperforming because the location was not pulling in enough customers.

Coliseum, which will compete against the Walkabout and Springbok sports bars owned by Regent Inns and Old Monk, said it saw the potential to increase its estate to 30. Mr Sargent justified this rationale by pointing to the nation's increasing obsession with sport. "Sky was the trigger. Sport is pretty endemic in people's psyche," he said. The group is close to agreeing franchise deals in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates – another key plank of its strategy.

The group also owns 90 per cent of a subsidiary called Titan Food and Drink that supplies Waitrose supermarkets with Sports Café-branded barbeque ribs and chicken wings. Coliseum said it hoped to expand both its distribution deals and the range of branded food on offer by the summer.

Coliseum raised £2.8m when it listed last July and a further £4.3m at the time of the Sports Café deal and does not expect to return to the market. The group yesterday reported sales of £477,000 and pre-tax profits of £189,000 for the year to 31 December, which included just 18 days contribution from the Sports Café. Its shares rose 1. 5p to 36.5p.