ITALIAN restaurant and deli chain Carluccio`s is set to continue its rapid growth despite rising fears of a fall in consumer spending.
Carluccio`s, which is the baby of TV chef Antonio Carluccio, is even preparing to open its first branch in Ireland. An agreement for the group`s first franchise deal - envisaged to cover up to five sites in the Emerald Isle - has already been signed.
The buoyant mood of the firm is in marked contrast to Monday`s two profits warnings from the bar and restaurant sector, with consumers expected to cut back on non-essential spending in the new year.
Carluccio`s said its current trading was ahead of the previous year and in line with the board`s expectations.
Shares in Carluccio`s, which were hit by a sector-wide reaction to Monday`s profit warnings, rose 3p to 157.5p.
Six openings last year brought the number of Carluccio`s outlets trading to 32 by the end of its financial year in September.
Two restaurants have opened in the current financial year, with plans for a further three openings at sites including St Pancras International and Heathrow Terminal Five.
Carluccio`s directors feel that the relatively modest £12 average spend per customer leaves the group well placed once more frugal customers look for somewhere slightly less expensive to dine.
The group, which opened its first outlet in central London in 1991, has also focused on getting better terms from its suppliers. This helped improve pre-tax profits by 66 per cent from £3.2m to £5.3m.