Piccolino/RBG owner cuts costs to stem losses

Individual Restaurant Company, operator of 22 Piccolinos and 11 Restaurant Bar & Grills, reported an operating loss of £872,000 in the year to the end of December 2009.

The loss, on sales of £53.3m, compared with a £1.15m profit in 2008, on £52.5m revenue but bosses said cost-cutting measures and refinancing left the business in strong shape.

IRC renegotiated a £18.5m banking facility in June 2009 and in the first months of 2010 has extended its loan to 2013. Net debt was reduced to £12.4m at the end of the year from £15.8m in 2008.

Steven Walker, chief executive, said: "The measures we have taken to refinance the business over recent months leave us well placed to progress with our expansion plans when the time is right. We have had an encouraging start to trading in the initial weeks of the year and remain confident of the future prospects for the group."

Cost savings were worth £2.1m during the year, Walker said. The company also raised £2.6m in new equity investment. It now has headroom in the bank of £6.1m for future openings and investment, when the market improves.

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