City Centre Restaurants has released the preliminary results for its 307 branded restaurants during 2000, ending 31 December. For the full year, the company generated a 6% increase in turnover to £217m, up from £205.2m in 1999. Pre-tax profit took a hit during 2000 however, reaching only £15.9m, a 12% decrease from the previous year. Pre-exceptional items, which reached £21.6m because of the payments made to departing executives and the provision for diminution in the carrying value of certain assets, operating profit similarly fell to £19.7m from £20.3m in 1999.

With the opening of 26 new restaurants and the refurbishment of the group's flagship Chiquito's in London, capital expenditure reached £31.2m during 2000. Five restaurants were re-branded and the company bought additional equipment for £9.6m.

City Centre also revealed that dividends per share would remain constant on the previous year, at 3.41p, and will be paid to shareholders registered on 4 May 2001. Basic earnings per share fell to 6.26p from 7.39p in 1999. After exceptional items, however, earnings per share will work out at 4.53p.

Focus on performing brands in 2001

The financial statement revealed that board level decisions had been made to focus more heavily on the performing brands. Furthermore, the 15 new restaurants tagged for opening during 2001, and the 22 in 2002, would only represent those brands that generate cash flow.

The group's management has recently changed and new executive chairman Alan Jackson, who was appointed on 20 March, commented that: "City Centre has some excellent brands, but also some issues that need to be addressed. We will focus on fewer brands, which will allow management to spend its time more effectively. Much has been achieved already this year but further change will ensue in the pursuit of the restoration of shareholder value."
 
Jackson's statement was very much geared towards the company's future plans, explaining that the brevity of his time with City Centre meant he would not focus on past performance. "We shall continue," he stressed, "to take all appropriate courses of action necessary to create strong performance throughout the Group."

CEO Andrew Guy also admitted that, "the year under review saw a considerable difference in the performance of our brands. Some delivered results in line with, or exceeding, our expectations, while others failed to maintain their previously strong track records."

Among the group's portfolio of established brands, only the airports outlets and Garfunkels restaurants have so far recorded positive results for 2001. "The other brands have found trading conditions difficult," said Jackson, pointing out that like-for-like sales at Chiquito's, Caffe Uno, Est Est Est, Wok Wok and Deep Pan Pizza fell during 2000.
  
Among the company's newly developed brands, the Frankie and Benny's chain has come forward as the most successful. Turnover and profits increased by 33% and 42% respectively during 2000 and the ten new outlets opened last year have all proved successful. As such, the majority of the new restaurants being developed this year will carry this brand.

City Centre Restaurant's AGM is due to be held on 5 June 2001, in London.

Financials

  Year ended
31st December 2000
£'000
Year ended
31st December 1999
£'000
Turnover 217,608 205,291
EBITDA (pre exceptionals) 33,206 31,001
Operating profit (pre exceptionals) 19,742 20,384
Profit before tax (pre exceptionals) 15,974 18,077
Dividends per share 3.41p 3.41p
Basic earnings per share (pre exceptional items) 6.26p 7.39p
(after exceptional items) (4.53p) 7.39p

By Clare Harman, just-food.com editorial team