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Gondola plans widespread refurbishments

12 | 04 | 13

The Gondola restaurant group is planning to refurbish a large number of its Ask Italian outlets.

It aims to give between 20 and 30 venues a makeover each year.

The company's managing director Steve Holmes told Caterer and Hotelkeeper it has noticed a marked improvement in the 19 sites that have already received a full refurbishment.

Mr Holmes also said the Ask Italian brand, which has 120 venues nationwide, has the capacity to grow further and could reach between 150 and 200 sites eventually.

"These latest restaurants are seeing huge growth and are doing phenomenally well despite the competition and economic backdrop," he stated.

The refurbished Ask Italian design has a Milanese influence with a brighter and more contemporary look.

Its menu, which focuses on fresh and authentic Italian cuisine, has been constructed with help from Michelin-starred chef Theo Randal.

"Within the next two to three years we should have done the majority of the business and I think there is a real opportunity to create this beautiful, quite large Italian restaurant business that is very different to everyone else. That is our major focus," Mr Holmes commented.

However, he dismissed the suggestion that the refurbishment work is being carried out in preparation for selling the brand.

"For us it is about creating this wonderful business and if someone wants to buy it then that’s great. But it’s not even on the cards. I will let other people worry about what will happen to the business," Mr Holmes added.

The Gondola Group is one of the market leaders in the casual dining sector and also operates the PizzaExpress and Zizzi chains.

It currently employs around 16,500 people, using kitchen equipment to serve almost 40 million meals a year in over 600 restaurants.

The company's total sales reached £591.7 million in 2012, which was up by 3.9 per cent on the previous year. Its final operating profit was £36.7 million. ADNFCR-16001031-ID-801570634-ADNFCR

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