Italian restaurant group Gusto is to open at least four new restaurants in 2016.
The news came as the company revealed that the opening of a flagship Manchester restaurant has helped drive sales up by 22% for the year to 31 March 2015.
The brand, which was bought out by Palatine Private Equity last year and operates 12 restaurants across the north of England and Scotland, reported total sales of £18.2m (excluding discontinuing operations) for the period in accounts submitted to Companies House. It also revealed a rise in like-for-like sales of 6.9% and site EBITDA up 15% on the previous year.
Gusto was the first of two investments Palatine has made in Tim Bacon and Jeremy Roberts' Living Ventures Group, following the £13m buyout earlier this year of the Alchemist bar business.
Palatine, which holds a 69.51% stake in Gusto, hopes to grow the brand to approximately 26 sites over four to five years.
In December 2014, Gusto opened a flagship restaurant in Manchester's Spinningfields area of the city centre with a £1.3m transformation of a Grade II-listed building.
Following the year-end, it launched a second restaurant in Scotland in Glasgow in April, and opened its first restaurant in Leeds in July.
The company plans to open at least four restaurants in 2016, with openings scheduled firstly in Lytham St Annes followed by expansion into the Midlands in Leamington Spa and Birmingham city centre as part of the Grand Hotel development in the Cathedral Quarter of the city.
Sue Crimes, CEO of Gusto, commented: "Since completion of the MBO, Gusto has continued to go from strength to strength. We have grown our portfolio of outstanding restaurants moving into new and exciting cities across the country."
"Gusto is an exceptional brand synonymous with premium dining and high-quality service set in stylish locations. This is an exciting time for the company and together with Palatine and Living Ventures we have substantial funding and capability to successfully expand and achieve our target portfolio of 26 restaurants in the next four to five years."