Bella Italia, the Casual Dining Group-owned brand, is closing in on completing the investment programme across its existing estate.

MCA understands that the brand, which now comprises 111 sites, has about a dozen sites left to upgrade to its new look and design.

Yesterday, the Nick White-led brand announced it had opened a total of 22 new sites in 2016 driven by almost £20m of investment, creating close to 1,000 new jobs.

MCA understands that trading for the brand over the last 11 months has been above the previous year, with its total CAGR in double-digit growth.

The group, which recently c£1.6m in new openings in Eldon Square, Newcastle and East Kilbride, will soon open its first two sites under franchise in Saudia Arabia and its first airport location at Luton Airport.

Commenting on the latest additions to the Bella family, managing director White said: “Having recently celebrated our 25th birthday, I am delighted with, and very proud of our achievements this year, with a total of 22 new site openings delivered. In so many ways 2016 has been a transformational year, whether it’s the pace of our food development and menu innovations, our openings programme, or the revenue generated and the number of people that now work as part of Bella Italia team.”

This year’s new restaurant openings coincide with the introduction of a brand new menu across the Bella Italia estate, including hand-stretched pizzas and fresh lasagne hand-made daily.

Other new site openings this year include, Brighton, Colliers Wood, Darlington, Gateshead Metro Centre, Glasgow, Orpington, Watford, the Wirral, and Bella’s biggest site to date with 300 covers, marking its 100th site opening – Bluewater.

The company opened a site in New Dehli, India, in March; and earlier this summer signed an 18-site franchise deal for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.