Gondola, the operator of the Pizza Express, Ask, Zizzi and Byron chains, was the highest positioned private company from the eating and drinking out sector in the Top Track 250 produced by The Sunday Times. The Top Track 250 identifies the mid-ranking private businesses that “are rising to the challenging market conditions”. Gondola, which is backed by private equity firm Cinvin, rose from number 12 in 2010’s list to fifth this year. Other eating and drinking out operators also climbed the rankings this year, with Pret a Manger up from 85th to 72nd, and Nando’s up from 84th to 78th. However, Tragus, the operator of the Café Rouge and Strada chains, dropped 15 places from 103rd to 118th. Brewer and pub operator, Charles Wells dropped from 128th to 151st, while alcoholic drinks maker Halewood International climbed from 120th to 117th. The Edrington Group, the whisky and rum distiller was 4th in the list up from 28th last year. The Top Track 250 was led by new entrant Partnership life Assurance, in which Cinvin has a 50% stake.