The Alchemist, the Palatine Private Equity-backed cocktail bar and restaurant concept, has secured its 10th site, in Chester.

Managing director Simon Potts told MCA 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 growth he said: “We’re comfortable with our pipeline of five sites a year and there’s a lot of areas we’re looking at. We’d like to do more in London – because the reaction at Bevis Marks has been astounding – in the City certainly and then looking further out. Rents seem to have calmed down a little for now but competition for the right sites remains fierce.”

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.”