Confident Prezzo open its first restaurant in city

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Italian restaurant chain Prezzo is to open its first restaurant in Leeds tomorrow at The Light entertainment and shopping centre on The Headrow.

The £500,000 development, which will create 15 jobs, will have seating for 126 diners including 86 in the restaurant and 40 at the front inside the shopping mall.

Prezzo serves Italian food such as pizza, pasta and grills as well as a range of tapas style small main courses.

Prezzo’s chief executive Jonathan Kaye said: “The restaurant will serve the highest quality food in comfortable and stylish surroundings and I believe that it will be a good addition to The Light.”

Mr Kaye, who founded the chain, has been looking for a suitable site in the city after studying politics at Leeds University between 1996 and 1999.

Prezzo announced plans earlier this year to open another 25 outlets after smashing City forecasts for profits in 2012 despite the austere consumer climate.

The pizza and pasta chain opened 31 new restaurants during 2012 as it grew revenues by 17 per cent to £144.5m.

Adjusted profits of £18.3m were five per cent ahead of analysts’ forecasts and 11 per cent better than a year earlier, even though the period was impacted by summer distractions such as the Olympics, Euro 2012 and Royal Jubilee.

Its expansion plans will add about 375 more staff to its total workforce of around 3,000.

Mr Kaye said a combination of opening in good locations, training, marketing and its food offer drove the out-performance.

Chairman Michael Carlton added: “This is the fifth consecutive year that we have entered without a clear conviction that the UK economy can deliver sustained growth on any meaningful scale over the next 12 months. However, Prezzo has prospered during this period of uncertainty and we will continue to drive the business forward.”

Prezzo halted expansion in 2009 as the downturn squeezed consumer spending and profits.

But new openings in 2012, plus a couple of closures, gave the company 210 outlets by the end of December.

Mr Kaye said trading is “going well so far this year”, but declined to give more detail on underlying sales growth.

“I remain confident in being able to adapt to what the economy throws at us,” he said.

Prezzo will join restaurant chains Browns, La Bottega, Zizzi & Miller, Cafe Rouge and Carter at The Light, which also has a Vue cinema, a Radisson Blu 4 star hotel, a Virgin Active health and fitness club.