UK restaurant chains are picking up the pieces of their failed independent rivals as they power through with aggressive expansion plans.
The latest is Pizza Express, which unveiled last week a three-year programme to open an extra 50 sites.
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However, it was just a year ago that the privately-owned chain completed a Company Voluntary Arrangement that ended in the closure of 73 restaurants at the cost of 1,100 jobs.
In the summer, it raised GBP335mln through a refinancing as part of a turnaround plan led by former Wagamama boss David Campbell.
Meanwhile, the Asian-inspired chain owner, The Restaurant Group plc, said last month it is on track to open five new restaurants in the second half of the current financial year, targeting a rollout of five to seven new venues per year.
The goal is to have an estate of 180-200 Wagamamas from the current 144.
It’s also boosting its Wagamama UK delivery kitchens, which are currently seven, to reach 20-30 over the next few years.
Similarly, Franco Manca and The Real Greek owner The Fulham Shore PLC has opened eight new restaurants since September 2019, taking the total to 75.
The AIM-listed group has three under construction and is sorting out the bureaucracy for 16 more.
Incoming junior market listing Tortilla Mexican Grill PLC has boasted its expansion plans on its IPO announcement.
The chain has 62 sites worldwide and wants to add another 45 over the next five years, including the delivery-only ‘cloud-kitchens’.
Large companies have benefitted from the end of lockdown, as they had enough size and in many cases raised extra cash, so they could enjoy the eventual pent-up demand from consumers and reduced competition from fallen rivals.
Extra cash made during the summer reopening rush has further supported acquisition pipelines which are expected to fuel growth.
The Restaurant Group shed 6% to 99.4p on Monday afternoon, while Fulham Shore dipped 3% to 17.7p.