Carluccio’s, the all-day Italian café, is expected to hit the 50-site threshold in the UK later this year, after putting the finishing touches on four new sites in little more than a month. The group, led by Simon Kossoff has just opened a new restaurant in Chester and will through September unveil three more outlets – in Cobham this week, followed by High Street Kensington and then Bury St Edmunds. The new openings will take Carluccio’s to 49 restaurants, meaning the group will have added eight new eateries in its financial year to the end of September. Kossoff told M&C Report that he expected the group to be able to secure one or two more venues in time to open this calendar year. He said the slightly accelerated opening programme was a product of a softer property market. He hoped the group would open a similar number in its next financial year. Carluccio’s, which also has four restaurants overseas operated by franchise partners – in Dublin and Dubai – is spending about £750,000 on each new restaurant, which also includes space devoted to retail and deli items. The restaurants in Chester, Cobham and Bury comprise about 90 covers each plus some outside seating, while the Kensington location is slightly smaller, with 70 covers plus outside seating. The business was established by Antonio Carluccio. The current management team, including Kossoff and chairman Stephen Gee, have led the rollout of the concept, having teamed up with Carluccio in the late 1990s. If Carluccio’s does find a further site before the end of the year it will join Gourmet Burger Kitchen and YO! Sushi in hitting the threshold in 2010.