The Alchemist, the Palatine Private Equity-backed cocktail bar and restaurant concept, has further strengthened to management team with the appointment of Victoria Stewart as its new finance director, MCA has learnt.

Stewart joins the Simon Potts-led business, which will open its tenth site this July in Chester, after seven months as acting finance director of Airline Services Limited, an LDC-backed business and before that was at the 4U Group for seven years.

She trained at Deloitte, then worked for private equity business Coller Capital.

Managing director Potts told MCA yesterday that the group was also hoping to open in Media City, Salford, in August and was close to finalising a deal for a site in the Westgate centre, Oxford. He also said the group was keen to add sites in the City of London and further afield in the capital.

The group has acquired the 21-year lease on the 4,700 sq ft former Gin Rickey’s and Luke’s Eating House in Chester city centre from Odysian Ltd. The site is due to open in July after a £1.1m refurbishment.

Potts told MCA: “The last year has been a really important period of growth for us and we’re delighted to get to 10.

“Chester is an area that we’ve been looking at for a while as it fits in nicely with our current geography and means we’re not over-stretching the operational infrastructure.”

Potts said that the brand’s growing profile had helped its site in Newcastle’s Eldon Square development get off to a flying start and that the group’s strong use of social media was increasing valuable with each new opening.

On trading, he said: “This year has started off really well. We’ve had the lift from the new sites we’ve opened but we’re in like-for-like growth across the board.”