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Franco Manca owner on hunt for new restaurant sites

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Henry Saker-Clark, PA City Reporter
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The owner of the Franco Manca restaurant chain has been viewing a flurry of sites at cities across the UK as it targets further expansion.

Shares in Fulham Shore, which also runs The Real Greek chain, lifted higher after it also hailed a “very encouraging” first week of outdoor trading.

The group said that 70 of its 72 restaurants under the two brands have now reopened for a mix of al-fresco dining, delivery and collection.

Currently, 37 of its 52 Franco Manca sites are operating for outdoor dining, alongside 16 of its Real Greek sites.

It said group sales from the week to Sunday April 18 were ahead of the same week in April 2019, despite only having outdoor seating available.

Customer demand over the week “far exceeded the number of seats available at peak times”, it told investors on Friday.

It said that this strong reopening demand has helped encourage it to push forward with expansion plans and has been eyeing potential locations for new restaurants.

Fulham Shore said that it has inspected sites in locations such as London, York, Durham, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cardiff, Liverpool and Manchester for new or additional restaurants.

The impact of the pandemic on hospitality and the resultant insolvencies of some rivals means a number of these potential new sites as “pre-existing fitted” units with lower opening costs and the group therefore expects a reduction in its capital spending.

“The group continues to be presented with a number of excellent potential retail locations, almost on a daily basis,” it said in a statement.

“The board hopes that Fulham Shore can contribute towards the revival of town centres with new restaurant openings as the Covid-19 restrictions ease.

“We look forward to recruiting many new staff members to our great teams at Franco Manca and The Real Greek in preparation for the new restaurants that we intend to open.”

Shares in the company were 6.25% higher at 17p in early trading.