Carlson seeks partner for Italianni’s UK debut

TGI Friday’s parent Carlson Restaurants Worldwide is seeking a deal with a major brewery or leisure company in order to roll out its restaurant franchise Italianni’s across the UK next year.

Dallas-based CRW has signed up franchise consultancies BDO Franchising and Brand Development to open 20 to 30 of the US/Italian restaurants in the UK by 2005.

BDO will take charge of the chain’s franchising on the Continent, and is in talks with a number of interested companies.

BDO franchising and development managing director Max McHardy says: “The organisation needs to have the financial head-room to develop the brand.

“It should have access to an appropriate property portfolio, or it may wish to convert a badly performing brand or add to an estate.

“We need to find someone who can develop a menu and atmosphere that is right for the local market.”

There are Italianni’s in the US, Mexico and Asia.

Whitbread is licensed to run the UK’s 26 US-style TGI Friday’s diners, and is also opening a Friday’s American Bar in Heathrow Airport. However, it is not involved in negotiations over Italianni’s.

CRW – valued at $2bn (&£1.3bn) – plans to extend its 550 to 600 TGI Friday’s, Friday’s American Bar and Italianni’s restaurants into untested markets in Canada, South America and Australia, in addition to the UK and Europe.

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