March 8, 2018 / 8:06 AM / 5 months ago

UPDATE 1-British pizza chain Domino's full-year profit beats

(Adds outlook, analyst expectations)

March 8 (Reuters) - Domino’s Pizza Group Plc, Britain’s biggest pizza-delivery firm, on Thursday reported a better-than-expected 10.2 percent rise in full-year pretax profit on strength in domestic and other European markets.

The company forecast 65 to 75 store openings in the UK this year and said UK system sales in the first two months of 2018 climbed 10.9 percent, with a 7.1 percent rise in like-for-like sales.

Underlying pretax profit rose to 94.4 million pounds ($131.1 million) in the 52 weeks ended Dec. 24, from 85.7 million pounds a year earlier, the company said, beating analyst expectations of 92.1 million pounds in a Thomson Reuters poll.

Domino’s Pizza, which has most of its 1,192 stores in the UK, and also operates in Ireland, Switzerland and Germany, said annual sales at UK stores that were open for more than a year rose 4.8 percent.

System sales rose 15 percent to 1.16 billion pounds in 2017, primarily driven by strength in the UK, where it opened 95 new stores.

The company, a master franchisee of U.S. group Domino’s Pizza Inc, raised final dividend by 16.7 percent and said 50 million pounds of share buybacks were planned for 2018.

Much like its parent company, Domino’s Group is focusing on sales through online channels to fend off competition from the likes of Just Eat, an online food delivery company.

In 2017, online order value represented 75 percent of the total, higher than 71.8 percent a year earlier.

$1 = 0.7198 pounds Reporting by Rahul B and Justin George Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri

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