Property News - Caffe Nero profits spark 40-site expansion plan

Caffe Nero is back on the acquisition trail and plans to open 35 to 40 outlets in the coming 12 months.

Unveiling annual profits of£1 million in the year to May 31 - against a loss of£2.3 million the previous year - chairman and chief executive Gerry Ford said he expects the property portfolio to reach 160 cafes by May next year.

During the past 12 months, Caffe Nero opened 18 sites and sold five former Aroma outlets, taking total numbers from 108 to 121 outlets. Ford conceded this was a slower roll-out than originally anticipated, due partly to the abortive bid to acquire Coffee Republic.

But he said: 'In late 2002, once we decided not to move forward in the short term with Coffee Republic, our organic roll-out programme returned to full speed.'

Ford said the company now has a two-pronged property strategy: to build up clusters of sites in larger conurbations, while also targeting smaller, regional towns. Caffe Nero now has nine outlets in the Greater Manchester area; seven in Scotland; four in Birmingham and three in Leeds.

'Likewise, we are trying to build up our presence in smaller regional towns.

'Stores such as Worthing, Chesham, Maidstone, Durham and Rickmansworth fit into this mould,' he said.