SCOTTISH restaurant chain Di Maggio's achieved a rise in operating profits in its last financial year to April 2011, even though turnover dipped, and is eyeing fresh projects in cities including Manchester, Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

Operating profits at Glasgow-based Di Maggio's rose to £716,000 in the year to last April from £691,000 in the prior 12 months. And this increase was achieved in spite of a rise in directors' pay to £2.292 million, from £2.188m, in a year in which turnover dipped from £18.82m to £18.67m.

The highest-paid director, believed to be co-owner Mario Gizzi, received £1.048m of remuneration for the year to April 30, down from £1.08m for the previous 12 months. Mr Gizzi said he was "very encouraged" by the com-pany's financial results.

Last year, Di Maggio's opened its second venture in the Scottish capital, Amarone Edinburgh, on the corner of George Street and St Andrew Square, investing £750,000 in a refurbishment of these premises.

It said yesterday that trading "has proved brisk", and that a further location in Edinburgh city centre was planned.

Di Maggio's meanwhile invested £500,000 in transforming L'Ariosto, the venerable Italian restaurant on Mitchell Street in Glasgow. This restaurant was re-launched as Barolo Grill in July 2011.

The firm, which has a 19-strong portfolio of outlets, also invested £400,000 in its Café Di Maggio's restaurant in the Bon Accord Centre in Aberdeen.

In early 2011, Mr Gizzi highlighted plans to move into England for the first time and a spokesman said that such a move, with the planned opening of a restaurant in Manchester, was a priority for him over the next 12 months.

Di Maggio's also plans to go ahead in 2012 with its long-awaited opening of an American-style chop house in Glasgow. Issues relating to the building in St Vincent Place in which this restaurant is to be housed have caused a hold-up.

Last year, Di Maggio's opened its first Mexican venture, burrito restaurant Pinto, in Glasgow's Queen Street on the site of the former Ingram Bar.

Mr Gizzi, who owns the group with Tony Conetta, said Di Maggio's move last year to Clydesdale Bank, with a new £15m facility, "will help us with plans for further expansion".

Di Maggio's employs 431 staff, and expects to create a further 50 jobs. Its portfolio includes tapas chain Cafe Andaluz.