MARKET REPORT: Investors share slice of Franco Manca's success

The owner of the Franco Manca pizzeria chain said business is picking up as customers flock to its restaurants following the end of lockdown. 
Fulham Shore, which also owns The Real Greek brand of eateries, said revenues for the three weeks to September 5 were 27 per cent higher than the same period in 2019. 
However, the firm added that 17 of its restaurants located in London's West End and around the capital's city centre offices were still down on pre-pandemic levels, although these branches were seeing 'week-by-week improvements in footfall' as tourists and workers began to return. 

Hungry for more: Fulham Shore said revenues for the three weeks to September 5 were 27 per cent higher than the same period in 2019

'We are very encouraged by the accelerating revenue growth trends during recent weeks despite continued challenging trading conditions,' said Fulham Shore chairman David Page. 'This reflects the popularity and relevance of both Franco Manca and The Real Greek.' 
Like other restaurant owners, Fulham Shore suffered heavily during the pandemic, with its revenues falling by over 40 per cent in the year to the end of March as lockdown measures forced it to close its doors for months at a time. But with the pandemic receding, the company is continuing its expansion plans, announcing that two Franco Mancas are being fitted out in London while its lawyers are negotiating over another 15 potential locations. 
Page said the group is also on course to open another ten branches in the coming year, with 150 additional sites planned over the medium-term. 
Fulham Shore shares climbed 3.3 per cent, or 0.6p, to 18.75p as investors cheered the update. 
The FTSE100 barely moved during the session, ticking up 0.07 per cent, or 4.99 points, to 7029.2, while the FTSE 250 fell 0.28 per cent, or 66.38 points, to 23,733.56. The market seemed unnerved by the bleak GDP data, which showed the economic recovery in the UK sputtered in July as the 'pingdemic' forced many workers to self-isolate. 
Commodities markets attracted attention after nickel prices hit record highs amid supply shortages and surging demand for the metal, which is used to make batteries for electric cars. 
FTSE 100 miner Glencore, one of the world's largest nickel producers, climbed 1.2 per cent, or 3.85p, to 336p on the back of the news, while fellow digger BHP, which owns the Nickel West mine in Western Australia, rose 1.1 per cent, or 22p, to 2071.5p. 
Yourgene Health surged 6.4 per cent, or 1p, to 16.75p after it signed a £34m contract with the Department of Health and Social Care to support the Government's Covid19 testing programme through its lab in Manchester. 
Online estate agent Purplebricks received an upgrade from UBS, sending shares up 3.5 per cent, or 2.2p, to 65p, despite analysts also slashing their target price to 64p from 78p. 
In the fallers, FTSE 250 storage unit provider Big Yellow dropped 2 per cent, or 29p, to 1457p after its chief executive James Gibson pocketed £5.2m from selling 350,000 shares in the group at 1487p a pop. 
Gibson's sale follows similar moves from chairman Nicholas Vetch, who sold £1.7m worth of shares in late August and another £3.8m on September 2, when the shares hit a record intra-day high of 1579p. 
Podcast network Audioboom sank 3.9 per cent, or 35p, to 860p following news that a possible takeover offer from private equity firm All Active Asset Capital, which was previously rejected by management, has been backed by just over 50 per cent of shareholders. 
Cryptocurrency miner Argo Blockchain was flat at 19p after it took out an £18m loan secured against a portion of its bitcoin holdings. The firm said the cash will be used to fund the expansion of its data centre in Texas. 
Meanwhile, diagnostics firm Genedrive dived 31.7 per cent, or 13.25p, to 28.5p after it unveiled plans for a cut-price fundraising to help push its Covid-19 test through the final stage of development. Shares were offered to investors at 25p each, a steep 40 per cent discount to Thursday's closing price.