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Las Iguanas to open in London

19 January 2006

Bristol-based Metrodiner, owner of the Latin American-themed Las Iguanas restaurant chain, will open its first site in London this May at the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank.

Co-founder and commercial director Ajith Jaya-Wickrema said the nine-strong group was preparing to accelerate the rate of its openings to three or four new restaurants a year. It has hired Insight Retail Consulting to find 33 suitable sites in and around London and another 30 in urban areas throughout the UK.

Jaya-Wickrema said the 4,000sq ft restaurant at the RFH was a major coup. "We wanted a landmark unit to come into London," he said. "As it's so vast, we did not want to get lost in the suburbs."

He believes Metrodiner beat off competition from 19 bigger rivals because it was small and different - it makes its own Chucara spirit in Brazil.

Metrodiner raised £3.5m for expansion in 2002, when it had five venues. Its most recent openings were in Leeds and Brighton last year.

New Las Iguanas outlets will open in Bristol's Harbourside in May and in Glasgow at the end of the year. Others sites are earmarked in Milton Keynes, Oxford and Manchester.

Jaya-Wickrema sees potential for more than 100 Las Iguanas restaurants in the UK.

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