Panda Yummy, the noodle restaurant concept, has appointed Kylie Lester, former head development chef at Itsu, as it looks to develop its food offer ahead of the rapid expansion planned for 2014, M&C Report has learnt.

Lester joined Panda Yummy at the start of the month as head development chef. Company founder Ian MacDonald told M&C Report he expects Lester to add Japanese dishes to complement the current pan-Asian range.

“What we are keen to do is to make sure we are at the forefront of the high quality, most authentic dishes we can produce within the price bracket, both for franchise profitability and the appeal to our customers. That will be her task,” said MacDonald.

He told M&C Report last month that Panda Yummy has lined up its first eight openings of 2014, starting with Glasgow on 20 March, as it looks to grow to c40 by the end of the year.

Around two thirds of the upcoming openings will have a sit-in restaurant, although the primary focus in takeaways and deliveries. Each is run by individual franchisees.