La Tasca, the casual dining chain, plans to expand into new oversees territories through the development of an international franchise business, M&C Report has learnt.

The group, which currently operates c65 sites in the UK and five in the US, has appointed Ellie Frost, formerly development director at Jamie’s Italian, to help develop its international growth strategy.

Frost was previously responsible for the international expansion of Jamie’s Italian, and will develop the franchise offering for La Tasca “in line with the brand’s ethos and culture”.

She is believed to have been responsible for laying the groundwork for Jamie’s Italian’s proposed moves into Russia, Sweden, Ireland and Germany, plus its launches in Dubai and Australia.

It is thought that the group currently has a “blank canvas” when it comes to countries its wishes to target first.

La Tasca has been concentrating on repositioning its UK estate with a £5m investment provided by backers Kaupthing and Commerzbank. This has included the rollout of its new Spanish Tapas Bar & Kitchen format.

Simon Wilkinson, chief executive, said: “I have been focusing on reinvigorating the UK brand and wanted to get that right before looking at the global franchise market. We already have a strong business in the US and feel that the time is now right to expand globally.

“The Spanish style of eating is very compatible with a lot of the international markets due to the informal, shared eating style and popular dishes. The atmosphere is a key differential at La Tasca due to the Spanish themed events and there is already interest from key markets in taking the brand. We are looking for the right partners who share our vision and ethos to take our authentic Spanish experience around the world.”

Frost said: “I am really excited to be working with Simon and his team at La Tasca. It’s great to be part of it at this time when the potential for the franchise expansion is untapped. Simon and I believe very strongly in the authenticity and values of the brand and the franchise relationships, the fact that La Tasca offers an interactive experience with its customers beyond the dining experience is very exciting and relevant to the international markets.”

She was recently appointed by Beds & Bars, the pub-meets-hostel operator, as special projects director to assist its plans to launch in the US, and to help with the group’s forthcoming openings in Paris and Barcelona.