Masala Zone, the seven-strong Indian chain, has announced plans to expand outside London and is currently looking for sites in the south east.

While the company is initially intent on expanding via its company-operated model, Ranjit Mathrani, executive chairman, told Restaurant magazine that the group may pursue a franchise model to increase the pace of its rollout.

The group is currently looking for company-operated sites in Cambridge, Guildford, Kingston and Oxford but believes Masala Zone has the potential for up to 50 sites in the UK.

Mathrani said: “We wanted to build a core in London - we needed the hub and the infrastructure to move forward.

“Our main constraint has been lack of suitable sites. There is a lot of competition for large sites in central locations.

“The big challenge for us (with franchising) is to ensure consistency. The same processes need to be observed across the estate. Training and quality control are critical.”

A division of Masala World, a family-owned Indian restaurant group that also owns Chutney Mary, Veeraswamy and Amaya, Masala Zone was founded in 2001.