Karen Forrester, the managing director of TGI Fridays, is to become chair of Vagabond, the London-based wine bar business led by Stephen Finch, MCA has learnt.

Forrester has been at the helm of TGI’s since 2007, growing the concept from a 46-strong chain to one with over 80 restaurants across the UK.

Finch told MCA: “We’re massively psyched to bring Karen on board (pun intended). She’s without a doubt one of the very best operators in the sector, with a relentless focus on the customer experience and everything that enables it. We’ve had a lot of success to date simply by having such a differentiated offering, and one that genuinely resonates with customers. But now it’s time to step up our game even further and Karen’s the one to help get us there. Bring it on!”

Last month, Vagabond secured £3.5m in new funding from sector investor Imbiba.

It is thought that Imbiba, which also backs the likes of Temper and Darwin & Wallace, has taken a significant minority stake in Vagabond, with its investment valuing the five-strong business at c£10m. It is believed that Imbiba, which previously backed Drake & Morgan, beat off competition from a number of private equity groups, including Livingbridge, to invest in Vagabond.

MCA understands that Vagabond, which Finch founded in 2010, will look to open three sites a year going forward, with further locations in London set to be the main priority over the next 12-18 months. A sixth site is set to open this October, in Sheldon Square, Paddington Central.

The group also thought to have run the rule over a site in Devonshire Square.

It is understood that the company will eventually look at expansion opportunities outside of the capital and internationally, especially in Europe.