AIM-quoted restaurant chain operator Fulham Shore (FUL:AIM) is ramping up its expansion by targeting a national roll-out of its recently-acquired sourdough pizzeria brand Franco Manca.

Chairman David Page says the group expects to open restaurants outside London for the first time during the financial year to March 2017. Contracts have already been signed for two Franco Manca branches in Brighton and Guilford.

The pizzeria, which has been well-received by food critics and consumers, was acquired by Fulham Shore in April. The group has increased the number of branches from 12 to 18 and further London openings are earmarked in the coming year.

The news, which comes alongside encouraging interim results, send shares in the £92.5 million cap 3.2% higher to 20.1p.

THE FULHAM SHORE - Comparison Line Chart (Rebased to first)

Operating profit has almost doubled from £0.9 million to £1.7 million in the six months to 27 September, while revenue has risen from £5.5 million to £13.9 million.

The results reflect a full six months' trading from The Real Greek and five months of trading from Franco Manca.

Acquisition and pre-opening costs mean pre-tax profit is down from £628,000 to £126,000.

House broker Allenby Capital forecasts full-year pre-tax profit of £476,000, up from £4,000 in FY2015. It says expanding outside of London will further accelerate the growth of the business and make it a more attractive takeover target.

We recently highlighted Fulham Shore in an article on fast-growing AIM companies which derive their earnings from the UK.  You can read more about the stock, and our other picks, here.

Issue Date: 17 Dec 2015