BOSSES of a restaurants chain based in Bolton are "cautiously optimistic" about what 2019 and 2020 are going to bring after posting their annual results.

Sales recorded by 3Sixty Restaurants, which has the Mediterranean-style Ego eateries at their core, are slightly up on 2018, at £19.52million.

And this has boosted the overall gross profit margin for the St Georges Road outfit from 68 per cent to 69.59 per cent.

Pre-tax profits are slightly down though, from just over £1million to £968,889, which has been attributed to exceptional one-off costs, such as pre-opening costs for new sites and a loss on the disposal of a subsidiary.

Even since the end of the reporting period, at the end of March 2019, the group has acquired three new pub sites, the Punchbowl at Sefton, which opened in May, The Wellington, in Shadwell, near Leeds, and The Forest at Bromsgrove, in Worcestershire.

Another location, The Hollybush at Stockton Brook, which had been sublet to Basura Restaurants, has now been transferred to Ego Restaurants Holdings Ltd, which is now the company's only subsidiary.

Plans are also in place to open a further two Ego restaurants within 2019-20, the directors have confirmed.

Julie Leigh, group financial director, said: "The directors are very pleased with the significant progress made with the Ego brand throughout the period and (we) opened four new sites in a public house location, taking the total number of sites under the Ego brand to 16."

She described the outlook for the near future as "very positive", as their new sites began to ramp up performance levels

Mrs Leigh added: "We are actively seeking new pub opportunities for expansion.

"With a strong balance sheet and a clear focus on opening more Ego sites, we are in a very strong position going forward and remain cautiously optimistic about the future."

Four sites were disposed of, over the course of the year, but these were replaced by another four.

The rise on overall gross profits has been pegged on promotional activities and reducing labour costs by half a percentage point due to efficiencies and sites trading for over 12 months.

An increase in administrative costs, to £627,000, has been associated with the opening and development of their new sites and internal restructuring of the group.

This time last year serial restaurant investor Luke Johnson had just sold off his minority stake in 3Sixty, and stepped down as chairman, with Mitchell and Butler coming on board to promote the Ego brand. Another joint venture, Manor Farm in Worcester, launches this month.The group had also previously offloaded three Rocket Restaurants, to concentrate on its core operation.