Fish restaurant and fishmonger chain FishWorks is predicting a return to the black in its current financial year.
The group, whose business includes a fish home-delivery service, anticipates pre-tax profits of £250,000 for the year to 29 July 2006, compared with a £228,000 loss in the 17 months to 31 July 2005 (when it changed its year end from February to July).
However, the company's interim results in the six months to 31 January 2006 were hit by lower-than-expected sales at its only seafood concession bar, in Harvey Nichols's Knightsbridge store, combined with expansion costs.
Pre-tax losses deepened to £248,403 (compared with £69,094 for the same period in 2005), although the group achieved profitability in March.
Sales soared by 60% to £2.90m (from £1.78m in 2005) and like-for-like sales increased by 7.8%.
"I am pleased to report that the group has made significant progress since its admission to the Alternative Investment Market last year," said executive chairman Roy Morris.
"We have opened four new sites since July 2005 and expect to meet our target of having 11 operating sites by the end of the financial year."
The group opened three new restaurants during the half-year - in Islington, Primrose Hill and Richmond - and will open a 10th site in Clapham in May.
This year's openings are performing well. Primrose Hill is averaging 85 covers from 46 seats and Richmond is averaging 137 covers afrom 68 seats.
FishWorks has also renegotiated the Harvey Nichols contract to reduce fixed costs and operating losses.
At the start of the year, the group improved its supply chain, with the £647,000 acquisition of Channel Fisheries.
It also reshuffled its management team to drive its ambition of operating 19 restaurants by 2008. Ratnesh Bagdai joined as finance director in February and former executive director Mitchell Tonks replaced current chairman Roy Morris as chief executive.
By Angela Frewin
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