Zoe Bowley, PizzaExpress UK managing director has told MCA that the brand could exceed its target of five openings this year.

The group had already identified Rushden Lakes, Bromley and a second site at the Bluewater shopping centre, along with two other locations, in its pipeline for the 2018 financial year, which began in February.

However, Bowley told MCA that two further opportunities have come up which could happen quickly enough to push the annual figure to seven. Following the successful partnership with Welcome Break for the first PizzaExpress at a motorway service area, further restaurants will also open at the service areas in South Mimms, Beaconsfield and Cobham by the end of this year.

Bowley also spoke about exploring other formats to drive growth, saying travel hubs were the platform she was asked about most. She said this was something the brand was at the very early stages of exploring and that she kept an open mind about all potential opportunities.

Meanwhile, Bowley insisted that PizzaExpress remained committed to its rolling programme of about 50 investments a year.

A full interview with Bowley features in this month’s MCA print edition, which will be published next week.