The value of the casual dining market in the UK is set to increase to £4.7bn by 2011, driven by the expansion of affordable branded chains, according to new research. A study published by OC&C Strategy Consultants found that the casual dining sector, which was worth £3.8bn in 2007, was set to expand as a result of the growing demand for quick, cheap and consistent dining options. Branded chains, which currently account for 30% of the sector, were set to drive growth, with Wagamama, Strada, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Pizza Express and Nando’s among the main names. The report found that while independent Italian, Chinese and Indian restaurants still dominated the market, branded outlets were expected to grow at a “phenomenal rate”, as a result of high margins, quick customer turnover and low operational costs. The OC&C survey, which questioned 1,000 diners, highlighted that casual dining operators were not expected to be severely impacted by the economic slowdown and that the market still had a long way to go before becoming saturated.