Takeaway giant Domino's Pizza today vowed to press on with expansion plans despite revealing a slowdown in sales growth in the first three months of the year.
The company, which has 726 stores in Ireland, the UK and Germany, said UK like-for-like sales in the 13 weeks to March 25 grew 3.6% compared to 5.5% at this time last year.
The group said it opened six new stores in the period and was confident of achieving the target of 72 new stores during the full year, of which 12 are planned in Germany.
Chief executive Lance Batchelor said: "We are pleased with the Group's performance in the first quarter and, although they are just part of the growth story, it is good to see our like-for-like sales continue to increase."
Shares in Domino's fell more than 4% after today's update.
The company said system sales, including new stores, were up 9% at £144.2m (€172.5m), while the like-for-like performance was driven by a recovery in Ireland.
Domino's said it continued to enjoy strong online growth, with e-commerce sales accounting for 50.6% of UK delivered sales compared to 39.3% last year.
Total online sales for the period were up 44.5% to £59.3m (€71m) and 16.4% of this was taken through one of Domino's mobile-phone platforms.
Mr Batchelor said: "We may have a softer comparative for the second quarter of the year - but we will not be taking our foot off the accelerator.
"We have a number of marketing initiatives and other programmes aimed at ensuring our franchisees can profitably grow their businesses in the coming months."
Looking ahead, the company said it faces fewer cost pressures, which would provide additional financial stability to franchisees.