Restaurant chain Prezzo still on growth track

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The Independent Online

Londoners loving Prezzo pizzas helped the Italian restaurant chain to post a 14 per cent jump in pre-tax profit for last year to £16.4m.

Jonathan Kaye, the chief executive, said the recipe for Prezzo's success was its "continuing to look after branches, looking for bigger and better opportunities to expand in City centre locations, and putting a lot of effort into menu development, training and food".

Cash going through Prezzo's tills rose 18 per cent to £123.9m last year. The chain opened 27 restaurants during the year including in Mill Hill, Belsize Park and Eltham in London, and has just opened on the new King's Cross station concourse, taking its total to 189 branches. Its sister chain Chimichanga's chicken fajitas were in favour last year too, and Mr Kaye said the Tex-Mex chain would have 20 branches by the end of this year.

But he warned: "There are signs that consumers are now a bit uncertain. Although we're still comfortable with trading, average spend is slightly reduced."

Mr Kaye, who has catering in his genes with his late father setting up Deep Pan Pizza and Garfunkel's, and cousins founding the Ask and Zizzi chains, admitted that discount vouchers remained important.

"When the economy recovers, they may be reduced, but maybe vouchers are a correction in the market. Retailers have been discounting since the beginning of time, but restaurateurs have only just started."