Shares in Wildwood and Dim T owner Tasty have tumbled after it revealed widened annual losses and warned there will be no let-up in tough trading in 2019.
The stock slumped as much as 30% after Tasty posted losses of £11.8 million for the 12 months to December 30, compared with losses of £9.5 million the previous year.
It cautioned it saw “no significant improvement” in trading over 2019.
Tasty has closed eight sites since the start of 2018 and said it would keep its estate under review in 2019, putting new openings on hold as it focuses on overhauling its estate and boosting profits.
Turnover fell 6% to £47.3 million over the year after falling like-for-like sales and site closures.
Tasty said that while trading over the Christmas period was positive, “the uncertainty of Brexit has meant that 2019 has started slowly”.
Jonny Plant, who is joint chief executive of Tasty with ASK founder Samuel Kaye, said: “Market conditions have been increasingly challenging through 2018 and the board’s expectation is that there will be no significant improvement in 2019.
“We will continue to focus on sales and cost control to ensure that the impact of the challenging economic environment is minimised.”
The group said 2018 was impacted by the football World Cup and extreme weather, with Brexit adding to the headache.
Keith Lassman, chairman of Tasty, said: “While we have put measures in place that should help mitigate some of the challenges, it is impossible to cover every consequence of Brexit, in whatever form it takes, if at all.
“Should a form of Brexit take place, there is risk of inflationary food pressure and supply of certain food items and labour remain uncertain.”
Tasty has seen its shares crash in recent months, having announced new funding arrangements in November including a capital injection from directors.
Restaurants have had a tough time in the past year, with rising rents, labour costs and business rates forcing many to close sites.
Prezzo, Carluccio’s and Gourmet Burger Kitchen have all shuttered restaurants since the start of 2018.