Mid-market restaurant chain operator Tragus has reported a fall in Christmas and new year trade and says it is preparing for a ‘challenging’ year for the sector.
Like for like sales across the group’s three key brands – Strada, Cafe Rouge and Bella Italia – dropped 3.3 per cent on the previous year for the four weeks to January 4.
In its half year trading statement, chief executive Graham Turner, said turnover had grown 9 per cent in the six months to November 23, but was preparing for difficult conditions for the second half of the year ‘given the difficult consumer environment`.
“We continue to face pressure on our input costs particularly in light of the decreasing value of Sterling against the Euro,” he said.
Over the past six months, the company said it had prepared well for the downturn with the introduction of a number of deals for customers, including 2 for 1 offers.
It opened seven restaurants in the first six months and Turner said it was planning to open another 10 over the next six months, including a Cafe Rouge in the North Terminal redevelopment at Gatwick, a Bella Italia in Bristol’s Cabot Square Development and a Strada in Stratford Upon Avon.
Turner said:“Longer term, we remain very positive about the casual dining market in the UK with changing socio-economic factors continuing to have a positive impact on dining patterns. These include more female and family friendly restaurants to accommodate the growing demand, shifts in work life balance, as well as an ageing population.
"We feel well positioned in the current challenging economic environment with our range of popular brands and value for money offerings to take advantage of the favourable trends in casual dining."
Tragus to grow Strada and Cafe Rouge presence in 2009