Sebeto Group Spa, the Italian operator of the Rossopomodoro pizza chain, has been acquired by OpCapita for an undisclosed sum.

OpCapita, a European private equity group specialising in the retail, consumer and leisure industries, and which recently backed the Football Pools, sees “significant potential” to improve and grow the Rossopomodoro brand, which has eight restaurants in London, 60 in Italy and 12 more internationally.

The group aims to reinforce Rossopomodoro as the Italy’s leading domestic pizza chain, alongside clustered international expansion. MCA understands that OpCapita had also previously run the rule over Laine Pub Company.

As part of the acquisition, OpCapita will strengthen the management team, with Marco Airoldi, former chief executive of Benetton joining Sebeto as executive deputy chairman, Roberto Colombo, former chief operating officer of Autogrill, to become chief executive officer.

OpCapita operating partner Stephen Alexander and managing director Joshua Spoerri will join the Sebeto board.

Sebeto’s founders and shareholders Franco Manna and Pippo Montella will continue to serve on the board, with Manna remaining as chairman and Montella handling supplier relationships.

Sebeto operates three other predominantly Italy-based restaurant brands - Rossasapore, Anema e Cozze and Ham Holy Burger, which has one site in Oxford Street.

As well as the UK, Rossopomodoro has sites in the in the US, Germany, Denmark and Turkey, and a partnership with Eataly, to provide pizza at its international branches.

A statement from OpCapita said: “In Italy, the aim is to reinforce its position as the country’s leading domestic pizza chain, leveraging the favourable market conditions: modern, casual dining is growing rapidly, with multi-site operators gaining a progressively stronger market share.

“The authentic Italian/Neapolitan identity of the concept will also be the mark of further clustered international expansion and will benefit from the registration last year of the Art of Neapolitan ‘Pizzaiuolo’ on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.”

Joshua Spoerri, managing director at OpCapita, said: “Rossopomodoro is an excellent concept with a strong Neapolitan heritage that has firmly established itself as the number one Italian pizza chain in the country and the only international Italian restaurant chain with genuine Italian provenance.

”It has a strong potential for further growth and we are truly excited to cooperate with Franco and Pippo in moving it to the next level, ensuring access to the necessary financial resources and reinforcing the management team with the strategic and operational competence provided by Marco and Roberto.”

Franco Manna, chairman and co-founder of Sebeto, said: “We are very pleased to be partnering with OpCapita as we look ahead to the next phase of growth for Sebeto. OpCapita’s in-depth knowledge of European consumer-focused businesses means they are well-positioned to help Sebeto deliver on its objectives and support its foothold in not only the Italian market, but also in the wider European casual-dining sector.”