Pizza Express operator Gondola Holdings again topped the list of the 200 largest restaurant and food-led pub operators in the UK, ranked in order of number of sites, compiled by M&C Report and its sister publication Restaurant Magazine. The list, unveiled yesterday in London, shows that the operator of Pizza Express, Byron, Ask, and Zizzi increased its estate during the year by 55 sites to 655. The Restaurant Group (TRG), operator of the Frankie & Benny’s, Chiquito and Garfunkel brands, remained in 2nd place, with 389 sites, up 15 units on the previous 12 months. it intends to open as many as 27 new sites across its brands, including its 200th Frankie & Benny’s, during this year. The Nando’s Group broke into the top three for the first time this year, after its c.£30m acquisition of the 50-plus Gourmet Burger Kitchen chain last October, which took its total of sites to 303. It is expected to open its 200th Nando’s in the UK this summer. Nando’s replaced the 295-strong Orchid Group in the top three, the fourth placed restaurant pub operator was alphabetically one ahead of Strada and Café Rouge operator, Tragus, which has an equal number of units. Town & City, the operator of the Slug & Lettuce chain, which recent;y merged with Stonegate Pub Company; Barracuda Group; Prezzo; Little chef and Wimpy operator, Famous Brands, made up the rest of the top 10. Those appearing in the second half of the list, include fledgling groups such as Pho, Tortilla and Tampopo, which are attracting just as much attention as the larger players. "There is undoubtedly a new round of activity for younger growth businesses seeking equity," said Paul Hemming, head of corporate finance at consultancy Zolfo Cooper. If you would like a copy of the full list, please contact Helena Merrell on 01293 610403 or at helena.merrell@wrbm.com.