Friday 23 March 2018

Avoca to open 'two to three' more stores as revenues exceed €60m

internationalOne of the outfits in Avoca’s spring/summer 2017 collection
internationalOne of the outfits in Avoca’s spring/summer 2017 collection

Gordon Deegan

AVOCA plans to open two to three new stores in the next 24 months, managing director Simon Pratt has said.

The new stores could deliver an additional 300 jobs to Avoca, which currently employs 970 across a network of shops, food markets and cafés in 12 locations across the country.

Mr Pratt revealed the plans for further expansion when commenting on new accounts filed by Avoca Handweavers, which show that restructuring costs of €4m, ahead of its €65m sale to US giant Aramark, resulted in the business recording a €1.7m pre-tax loss in the 11 months to the end of January 5 last year.

The bulk of the restructuring costs were made up of additional pension contributions to directors. Last year directors shared total pension contributions of €3.5m.

The accounts show that the business increased its revenues by 3pc to €60m.

Earnings before interest, depreciation, amortisation and tax (EBITDA), excluding restructuring costs, increased by 3.7pc to €4.4m before the Aramark sale.

In an interview, Mr Pratt - who continues to manage the business after the sale - said that "the business has continued well" since the sale.

Mr Pratt said: "The sale to Aramark with its scale and global reputation puts Avoca in a strong position to enable the company to grow at home and internationally. The continuing involvement of members of the Pratt family and the complete Avoca senior management team will ensure that the core values of the business are maintained through this growth".

Mr Pratt said Avoca's most recent opening at Dunboyne, Co Meath - which created 100 jobs - "is trading very well".

Mr Pratt also confirmed that the business is actively looking for more sites for new store openings and hopes to open two to three new stores in the next 24 months".

He said: "We would like to see a limited number of new stores in Ireland. We are also minded to keep that growth sustainable and make sure that each new store maintains the essence of the Avoca brand in terms of its look and feel and the new ideas it contains."

Avoca continues to be one of Ireland's best known brands and Mr Pratt said: "We make by hand 40,000 products a week in our central kitchen and bakery.

"The range goes from wild mushroom and beef cannelloni to caramel squares.

He said: "Each store has its own scratch bakery where across all the stores we bake 2,000 loaves a day from Rye Sourdough loaves to a multi seed brown soda."

Payment, including pension contributions, to directors increased from €1.5m to €5.46m. Wages and salaries for directors and staff increased from €17.79m to €19.3m.

Irish Independent

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