ASK Italian, the Bridgepoint-owned chain, has said it plans to open five sites in total by this summer, after opening the doors to its flagship Manchester restaurant.

The launch of the 192-cover restaurant in the city’s Piccadilly Gardens follows the opening of ASK Italian Swindon in January and precedes an opening in Maidstone, which due to open in early April and will bring the company’s estate to 111 sites.

M&C Report understands that the company has lined up further openings in Taunton and Edinburgh for this year.

ASK Italian’s managing director Jason Thomas said: “We’re constantly searching for great sites, and we’re thrilled to have opened two new restaurants so far this year – with more to follow in the coming months. We’re looking forward to bringing the ASK Italian recipe of authentic dishes, warm service and fresh design to more of the UK.”

Last month, chief executive Stephen Holmes said that the brand would focus its expansion plans on city centres where it is “unrepresented”.

Holmes said: “Our acquisition strategy is to go after big city centres, shopping centres and leisure centres.”

He added the group will “keep away from more tertiary towns” as the group already has a strong presence in many of these towns.