Gondola Group has signed a 50-50 joint venture with the Bharti Family Office to open restaurants under its Pizza Express brand in India. The first restaurant under the new agreement will open next year in either Mumbai or Delhi. As revealed by M&C Report in May, the company has hired Jasper Reid, a former managing director at Macquarie Bank, as a consultant to help oversee its expansion into the country. The chain will hope to take advantage of the explosion in popularity that fast-casual dining is currently experiencing in the country, which has one of the largest consumer economies in the world and a booming middle class. Rivals Domino’s Pizza and Pizza Hut have already made significant strides into the region, and currently operate 300-plus sites and c.140 units in India respectively. Gondola, which acquired the international franchise business of Pizza Express last September, is also exploring opportunities to further expand in China.