Casual-dining operator Tragus is targeting 24 new openings a year as part of its plans to double the size of its Café Rouge estate.
The operator, which opened its 100th Cafe Rouge in London's St Katherine's Dock earlier this month, believes the UK could reasonably hold 250 Café Rouge sites.
Graham Turner, chief executive at Tragus, which also owns Strada and Bella Italia, said that while the credit crunch has made planning more difficult, the company was still confident of growth.
"We have 267 restaurants in Tragus right now, so adding 24 to that in a year is still a significant number," he told Caterer.
"Nobody is trying to be silly about it," he added. "Picking the good sites in this market means being choosier than you would have been a few years ago."
Turner added that if Tragus continues its approach of 24 new restaurants a year, his initial goal of 200 Café Rouges in Britain would be achieved by April 2016.
Tragus will also pursue a strategy of putting its flagship Strada and Café Rouge brands in the same locations, as it believes French and Italian offerings can operate side by side. Currently there are only six sites in the country with both a Strada and Café Rouge.
"Café Rouge works really well in retail and high-street locations, while Strada is more suburban," said Turner. "They complement, but do not compete."
By Christopher Walton
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