Ponti’s Group, the operator of the Ponti’s Italian Kitchen and Caffe Italia brands, plans to update and expand its 16-strong estate, after the successful re-launch of its two standalone restaurants in London.

The company, which from 2007 has been led by Stefano Ispani, completed the overhaul of its two Ponti’s Italian Kitchen near Oxford Circus and in Duke Street at the start of last year, with both sites now firmly positioned in the upper end of the casual dining sector.

The two restaurants highlight the company’s unique selling point of using only provincial artisan produce from the Emilia Romagna region of Italy.

Ispani told M&C Report that the company was now actively seeking to open two further restaurants under the format within the next 18 months.

He also hopes to complete a programme of conversions that will see the group’s other 14 sites rebranded under the Caffe Italia name, complete with counter ordering and table service.

The majority of the sites are based in transport hubs and shopping centres, with several trading under the old-style Ponti’s café format.

The company has so far converted two sites at Stansted and Heathrow to the Caffe Italia branding, to sit alongside four existing units currently operating under the format.

It is currently looking to convert its Ponti’s sites in Bluewater, Lewisham, Reading, Watford and Wimbledon to Caffe Italia’s subject to new lease discussions with landlords.

The group is also in discussions with Network Rail on the future of its site at Liverpool Street Station and regarding other opportunities within the train station operator’s portfolio for both Ponti’s Italian Kitchen and Caffe Italia.