3Sixty Restaurants is aiming to open up to 15 new Ego Mediterranean Restaurant & Bar sites by 2015, according to Colliers International, which has been appointed to lead the expansion search.
The Mediterranean grill brand is focusing its property search on market towns in the North and the Midlands, including Stoke, Solihull, Macclesfield and Crewe, in a bid to maximise its appeal to families.
The company is also looking at existing pub premises, to which it could add its food offer. The Ego menu features traditional Mediterranean fare including mozzarella arancini, garlic prawns, pan-fried chorizo, bruschetta, classic pasta dishes, risotto, chicken kebabs, lamb tagine, pizza and steak.
There are no definite targets for expansion, it was confirmed this week, as plans were said to be very much "opportunity-driven".
Director for licenced and leisure at Colliers International, Ross Kirton, confirmed to Caterer and Hotelkeeper: "We are looking at potential properties this week. The plans are very opportunity-driven, so if we found say, six properties for sale together, we would be open to that idea."
He confirmed that the overall aim was to open around 10 to 15 new sites. He couldn't confirm exactly where they would be, but said that the company had been concentrating its search on family-friendly market towns, and places that had existing successful sites, such as Lichfield.
Commenting on the group's plans to buy existing pubs and add the Ego food offer, he explained that "the food is very family-oriented" and would especially work well in places where people go out "once or twice a week" with children.
Owned by restaurateur James Horler, Ego Restaurants merged with pizza business Rocket in 2011 to become part of umbrella brand 3Sixty Restaurant Group. Ego has eight sites across England, including Sheffield, Liverpool and Kenilworth, while there are three Rocket sites in London and one in Nottingham.
The group posted a pre-tax profit of almost £2.4m for the year ending March 31 2013. At the time, Horler said the future of the company "probably" rested on the expansion of the Ego brand.
Despite rumours that the firm was about to sell, late last year group chairman Luke Johnson also said: "The business is in a good position from which to expand."