Italian restaurant group Carluccio's today revealed it is drawing up plans to launch in the Middle East, following the successful opening of its first franchise in Ireland.
Simon Kossoff, managing director of Carluccio's, which now has 38 restaurants trading in the UK and Ireland, said the unit in Dublin had been trading well since launch in March.
"We will open a second store with our partners in a year and Ireland has scope for six to seven Carluccio's," he said.
"We're confident it will work for other territories also and the Middle East is somewhere we're definitely keen on opening."
Research on the Middle East is underway and the company is considering either a joint-venture or franchising arrangement in the medium term, Kossoff added.
The company will open its fifth UK store of its current financial year in Cambridge later this month and already has two locations lined up for financial year 2009 in Leicester and Bristol.
Kossoff said that while trading remained challenging, the company's all-day trading model would cocoon it from the worse of the slowdown in consumer spending.
He added that tougher economic times would likely lead to more property coming to market, which Carluccio's would take advantage of.
Turnover in the 26 weeks ending 23 March increased 19% year-on-year to £30.9m. Pre-tax profit jumped 19% to £2.8m.
By Chris Druce
E-mail your comments to Chris Druce here.