Electra Private Equity is in negotiations with the American owner of Fridays about a new franchise agreement, according to The Times.

The new agreement is expected to hark back to Fridays’ cocktail bar heritage, via a second brand.

Electra, which owns the UK Fridays franchise, is expected to put the business up for sale this year, and is hoping the launch of its smaller-format, bar-based operation 63rd+1st, will help boost the group’s expansion potential and therefore attractions to a buyer, which The Times reports it has asked HSBC and Numis to find.

When Covid restrictions are relaxed, in addition to the reopening of Fridays 85 existing sites, it will open its first 63rd+1st location in Cobham, with a further openings in the pipeline for 2021, under this new brand.

Robert Cook, who was appointed as chief executive in December 2019, when long-serving chief executive Karen Forrester stepped down. He said the future of the new brand was likely to help shape future extension of the core Fridays franchise.

“We’ve trademarked the 63rd+1st brand globally. It’s ours, but we’re just in the process of working out where it sits,” he said.

Earlier this month Electra said Fridays had performed strongly despite the turbulent trading conditions of 2020, and said its cash position would remain virtually unchanged from March 2020 at the end of the current financial year.