Azzurri Group, the company behind Ask Italian and Zizzi, has entered an agreement to acquire London-based Italian food and coffee operator Coco di Mama.
The deal, for an undisclosed sum, gives Azzurri Group a presence in the quick service sector, which it has not had up until this point.
Coco di Mama was founded in 2011 by Jeremy Sanders and Daniel Land. It serves 30,000 customers a week from six stores, specialising in fresh, fast and healthy Italian food, including pasta, baguettes, salads and coffee.
Azzurri said the deal would enable Coco di Mama to accelerate its growth to cover 40 outlets over the next few years. Its co-founders, Jeremy Sanders and Daniel Land, will remain with the business to execute its growth strategy.
Steve Holmes, chief executive of Azzurri Group, said: "We have watched Coco di Mama's development from the start and I am delighted that they will be joining Azzurri. It is a very strong brand which has quickly developed an exciting position in the quick-service food sector. It now has a great opportunity to accelerate its development and I very much look forward to working alongside Jeremy and Daniel to achieve this."
Speaking to The Caterer he added: "We think it could grow into a nice business. We are definitely going to focus on London initially although we will look at the City as well as the West End, but we don't see it stopping at London in the long term."
Jeremy Sanders and Daniel Land, co-founders of Coco di Mama, added: "We are very proud of what the team at Coco di Mama have achieved since we began in 2011. A partnership with Azzurri marks a new and exciting chapter for the business. We look forward to working with Azzurri, which brings proven expertise and resources in growing and operating successful Italian food brands, and continuing to offer our customers great food, coffee and service."
Azzurri Group was formed after Ask and Zizzi was acquired from Gondola by private equity company Bridgepoint in December 2014 for around £250m.
Theo Randall, chef of the eponymous restaurant at the InterContinental London Park Lane, has since taken a minority stake in the Azzurri Group. Zizzi has 136 outlets serving up to 8.5 million customers a year. Ask Italian has 112 outlets serving up to 5.5 million customers a year.
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