Adjusted pre-tax profits for the group, which opened 28 restaurants in the period, increased by 11 per cent to £20.4m. Adjusted diluted earnings per share were up 16 per cent to 6.85p (2012: 5.90p) and diluted earnings per share were 6.15p (2012: 5.58p).
The company had 237 restaurants at the year end, including 194 Prezzos, 37 Chimichanga restaurants and four units trading as Cleaver, a new concept which it launched in summer 2013.
“These openings provided us with our first representation in major population centres such as Belfast and Leeds, together with additional sites in Bath, Oxford and Glasgow,” said Michael Carlton, chairman.
“We also continue to open in successful leisure and retail developments such as the Whiteley Shopping Centre in Hampshire, Gloucester Quays and Bicester and in small provincial towns such as Rayleigh, Felixstowe and Kettering. This wide range of locations into which our brands can be introduced is one of the key strengths of our business.”
Carlton said early signs for Cleaver are 'encouraging'.
“So far this year, we have opened one additional new restaurant in Ripon and we are also on site in a further six locations. Our property pipeline for 2014 is well-advanced and plans for 2015 and beyond are also taking shape. Once again, we would anticipate opening 25-30 new restaurants by the end of the year.”
Carlton said cashflow from operations was broadly in line at £30.8m (2012 - £31.3m) and after making corporation tax payments of £3.9m (2012 - £4.2m), there was £26.9m (2012 - £27.2m) available for investment or financing.
During the year the cash outflow on property, plant and equipment was £26.1m (2012 - £24.1m), which covered capital expenditure for the fit out of new restaurants, as well as refurbishment and rebranding projects for the existing estate. This also included the purchase of one freehold property at a cost of £1.2m and we sold one leasehold site for cash proceeds of £0.1m (2012 - sold one freehold and three leaseholds for £1.4m).
Overall there was a net cash inflow of £1.5m (2012 - £4.3m) and at 29 December net cash on the balance sheet had risen to £5.8m (2012 - £4.4m).
“Once again, our continued strong cash generation, together with a modest short-term borrowing facility and a portfolio of readily saleable freehold properties will provide us with sufficient flexibility and funds to comfortably fund our anticipated expansion plans for the foreseeable future.”
Regarding his outlook, he said: “Finally, there are indications that the vital signs of the UK economy are improving, and therefore having delivered a continuous record of growth throughout its recent period of difficulties, there is every reason to be positive about our future performance.
“We have enjoyed an encouraging start to the year and with a strong site pipeline in place, the Board is confident of further success in 2014.”