Caffe Nero, the Italian-style espresso bar chain which called off a £44m flotation in November, is to make a second attempt to go public and raise £12m for expansion.

The group, controlled by its founder, Gerry Ford, has appointed Collins Stewart to place about a third of the company, valuing Caffe Nero at just over £40m.

It postponed the planned float last year because "it was not quite ready and market conditions were not right", Collins Stewart said.

The company

will decide this week whether to proceed and whether to open the offer to private investors. The chain, which has grown rapidly since it had London seven sites in London in

1998, now has 58 units and is opening three to four a month. The flotation will enable it to achieve a target of 100 by May 2002.

Caffe Nero has become one of the UK's main coffee bar chains alongside Starbucks, Costa, Coffee Republic and Madisons.