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Fresh cream cake specialist Cake Box has reported that trade at three-quarters of its stores is now at the level it was before the coronavirus outbreak.

Announcing its results for the year ending 31 March 2020, the company described the period as one of a “strong performance”, with 20 new franchise stores added over the 12 months. At the end of March, the company had 133 stores in operation.

Gross margin rose from 45.7% to 46.7%, although adjusted pre-tax profit fell from £4m to £3.8m, which Cake Box said was slightly below previous expectations.

Like-for-like sales through Cake Box franchise stores rose 2%, but had been up 5.1% in the period before coronavirus.

“Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, our first priority has remained the health, safety and wellbeing of our customers, colleagues, franchisees and their staff and the communities in which we operate across the country,” said chief executive officer Sukh Chamdal.

The company has since reopened sites after introducing social distancing and new processes, with 131 of its 133 stores now open.

Based on average turnover for the two weeks to 7 June 2020, the company said 75% of sites were achieving the average turnover seen in the seven weeks before 15 March.

“We have a strong pipeline in place to help continue to grow the Cake Box family and are developing new, innovative ways to extend our customer reach,” said Chamdal.

He explained that this included the expanded trial of shopping centre kiosks, and supporting a click-and-collect system that was popular during lockdown. The business last month launched home delivery through Uber Eats and Just Eat, and recently launched on Deliveroo.

“As we emerge into a new sense of normality, there will still be birthdays, marriages and numerous other occasions, small and large, to celebrate up and down the country, with Cake Box’s growing family of dedicated franchisees committed to supporting those festivities as best they can.

“With a strong balance sheet, operational flexibility and a capital light business model, we remain confident in the group’s future prospects.”