PASTA and pizza chain Prezzo is to add up to 30 new restaurants to its estate this year after serving up another healthy rise in profits yesterday.

The group, which trades as Prezzo, Chimichanga Tex-Mex and Cleaver, opened 28 new sites during the financial year to December 29 as it expanded to 237 outlets and lifted adjusted profits by 11% to £20.4 million.

The opening programme provided it with its first presence in major cities such as Belfast and Leeds, as well as additional sites in Bath, Oxford and Glasgow. It has opened one new restaurant in Ripon this year, and is on site in a further six locations as it looks to add another 25 to 30 new outlets in 2014.

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Chairman Michael Carlton said the company's record of growth during the economic downturn meant there was "every reason to be positive" about future performance now that the UK's prospects were improving. He added: "We have enjoyed an encouraging start to the year, and with a strong site pipeline in place, the board is confident of further success in 2014."

The company said it saw positive early signs for Cleaver, which offers chicken, ribs and burger from an open-grill kitchen, following the launch of sites at Cobham, Leatherhead, Wokingham and Oxford since last summer.

Initially called Jonathans, the group opened in November 2000 and floated on the Alternative Investment Market in March 2002. The chain is controlled by the Kaye restaurant dynasty, with various family members together holding more than half of its shares.

Chief executive Jonathan Kaye has about 8.5%, while his uncle, Philip - the co-founder of Garfunkel's and Deep Pan Pizza - has 46% of the stock.