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Overseas travel ‘ban’ boosts Tasty restaurants

International travel restrictions may be causing havoc to airlines and tour operators, but they are helping to get Britain’s restaurants back on their feet.

Tasty, the Aim-listed operator of the Wildwood and dim t brands, issued a trading update yesterday citing the effective overseas travel ban as a factor in the strong sales in its outlets since the easing of lockdown restrictions.

It added that “as a result of international travel restrictions, increased disposable income and a general strong desire to go out, we believe trade will remain robust throughout the summer months”.

During the most recent lockdown, the company kept the tills ticking over and some of its workforce occupied by introducing a takeaway and delivery service. It said that this had performed well and had continued to do so since the resumption of indoor trading on May 17. It is rolling out two new takeaway-only brands: Out the Box and Out the Box Asia.

Last month, Tasty reopened 49 of its 54 restaurants and in the six-week period to June 27 they achieved strong like-for-like sales growth compared with 2019.

“Trading has benefitted from significant pent-up demand and we are encouraged by the initial strength of our overall trading performance despite the restricted capacity due to social distancing,” it said.

Last year, Tasty laid off 284 people — almost a third of its workforce — and was said to be considering a company voluntary arrangement as a way of cutting its onerous rent obligations. However, it confirmed yesterday that it had agreed consensual lease concessions and rent reductions on more than 80 per cent of its estate and continued to negotiate with the rest on settling outstanding debts.

It is also seeking to take on extra staff, partly through the use of an apprenticeship scheme and the government’s Kickstarter scheme for young people, although Jonny Plant, Tasty’s chief executive, said it was not easy. “We’re desperately looking to recruit but it’s something of a challenge,” he said.

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