Gusto Italian reports strong financial position & lays out vision for further growth

Gusto Italian, the premium casual dining restaurant group, has announced resilient financial results for the year to September 2021.

In a period significantly hampered by Covid-19 enforced closures and trading restrictions, the company recorded a reassuring turnover of £12.4m with an EBITDA of £585k that the board regarded as “extremely positive”.

With Covid-19 restrictions now lifted, Gusto Italian has seen happy customers flock back to its restaurants.

Notably, delivering a first-class guest experience and changing focus away from guest facing discounting towards customer loyalty through its Gusto Gold Rewards programme, has resulted in customer feedback scores that have reached record levels with an average Net Promoter Score in the high 80s, compared to an industry average of 55.

The restaurant group is looking to build on these solid foundations by growing its estate and expanding further South over the coming year.

These new sites build on the launch in December 2021 of Gusto Italian’s flagship Nottingham restaurant, which serves as the basis for design concepts for the group which will run through new locations and newly refurbished venues.

As part of a self-funded £2m CAPEX programme, existing sites including Liverpool and Cookridge in Leeds, have undergone a significant renovation, with a full refurbishment also scheduled at Edinburgh.

Three design icons will feature in as many refurbished sites as possible: Pizza Experience, Theatre Kitchen, and Dine Under the Olive Trees, all helping to deliver an immersive, unique dining experience evocative of the Amalfi Coast.

In addition to investing in its restaurants, Gusto Italian has also been investing in the people who work there. In April, the company announced a new partnership with PayCaptain, which strengthened its employee proposition and promoted financial awareness and wellbeing for its people.

Gusto Italian has also launched an apprenticeship scheme, which will enable Junior Managers to achieve a degree-level qualification, bridging the skills gap and improving pathways for progression within the business.

CEO Matt Snell said, “The performance of our restaurants, feedback from customers, and positivity of our people are all representative of the momentum we feel building behind Gusto Italian.

'Given the macro-economic climate, this will be particularly important in ensuring we can remain resilient in response to the unprecedented headwinds facing the hospitality sector.

'Although the next 18-24 months will no doubt bring plenty of challenges, this is an exciting time for the business, and our financial footing offers us an opportunity to continue to invest in our people, develop our sites and expand our footprint”.

The accounts to September 2021 also paint a picture of a business bouncing back and standing out from its competitors.

Despite only being able to trade for approximately six months of the financial year, turnover resulted in a positive EBITDA contribution of £585,000, and the accounts show that when allowed to open and trade freely, the business performed very well.

Indeed, across months where restaurants were operating as normal, such as through October and November 2020, the business consistently outperformed expectation.

Commenting on the accounts to September 2021, CFO Frank Bandura said, “We are delighted to report strong trading since the end of lockdown resulting in turnover of £12.4m and a sizeable EBITDA contribution of £585,000.

'With a year-end cash position of £5.5m, a strong balance sheet and a supportive shareholder in Palatine Private Equity, Gusto Italian has the resources to continue growing in the future”.

Matt added, “Considering that the year under review included two full lockdowns, the implementation of a regional tiering system, partial re-openings and also periods of time when only outdoor trading was allowed, these financial results present a remarkably robust performance and one that would not have been achieved without the fantastic efforts of our loyal suppliers and hard-working staff.”

Founded in Cheshire in 2005 and backed by Palatine Private Equity, Gusto Italian has almost 600 employees, known as family members, across 13 restaurants.