Rise in outlets lifts Ramsden's

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Harry Ramsden's, the quoted fish and chip shop chain, served up a large portion of good news yesterday, reporting that profit before tax for the first half had advanced 27 per cent on the comparable period last year.

Pre-tax profit was pounds 130,000 for the six months to the end of March on turnover of pounds 1.5m, an 11 per cent increase.

The growth reflected an increase in the number of restaurants from 10 to 14. Eleven of the restaurants are in the UK with the others in Dublin, Hong Kong and Melbourne.

In the year to October the company made a profit before tax of pounds 950,000.

The company owns only one restaurant, the rest being joint ventures or franchises.

Three more restaurants will open in the next year; one in Bournemouth this month, others in Cardiff in October and Belfast in March. Further openings are planned throughout Europe, the Middle East, the Far East and Australia.

The company was founded 60 years ago in Guiseley, Leeds, where it still owns a 300-seat restaurant.

The other restaurants have all been opened within the past six years, including the one in Dublin, which is a joint venture with Ireland's football manager, Jack Charlton.

The Harry Ramsden's brand has become sufficiently established to allow a frozen fish and chips package to be sold through supermarkets.

The company has recently been on the end of bid speculation following moves by the Kuwaiti Food Company, which raised its stake in the chip shop chain from 1 per cent to 11 per cent last April.

Earnings per share are 1p, up from 0.8p in the previous year. An interim dividend of 1p will be paid, unchanged from the previous year.