ASK Italian, the Azzurri Group-owned, is to further strengthened its presence in major UK cities, with an opening in Leeds, MCA has learnt.

The 113-strong group, which is led by Harry Heeley, has secured the former Miss Selfridge unit in the city Lands Lane, with plans to re-open it within 12 months.

Heeley told MCA: “We have opened eight new restaurants over the last 18 months – each one individually designed and trading strongly. Securing a site in an exciting and competitive city centre like Leeds reflects the strength of the ASK Italian brand, and demonstrates the confidence that we have in our ability to grow ASK and compete in prime locations. With the brand stronger than ever, we hope to open a similar number over the next 18 months, but we recognise it’s not a race for numbers but about finding the right sites and locations.”

The company has recently opened new restaurants in Chelmsford, Newcastle and Bournemouth.

It will open in Worcester in July and Stratford upon Avon in late August.

In February, Azzurri Group, which also operates Zizzi and Coco Di Mama, completed a refinancing that has seen a “significant upsizing of its senior debt facilities”.

The refinancing included the addition of £45m of new commitments to refinance existing shareholder debt accompanied by a substantial term-out of amortising senior facilities.