Ramen restaurant group Tonkotsu is set to open in a site in Stratford this summer, followed by Dickens Yard, in Ealing, in the autumn, MCA has learnt.

The Stratford restaurant – its tenth – will be in the International Quarter London, on the edge of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Stephen Evans, managing director, Tonkotsu, told MCA the site should benefit from footfall around Westfield Stratford, but also from visitors to football matches at the stadium, the velodrome and the aquatics centre. “We are 10 yards from Westfield, but the rent is half as much and there is no service charge,” he added.

The Dickens Yard site is located within the existing Victorian high street shop parade, which forms part of the new development, and will “book-end” the shops with Franco Manca at the other end, said Evans. “It is very much going to be a traditional Tonkotsu – probably more traditional than our others in the sense that is a nice small site. We should get about 60 covers in there, on two levels, so it will work really hard, and we are not exposed to a big space with big rents,” he explained.

The business opened its ninth site in Battersea last month, which “has traded way ahead of expectations” said Evans. “Even though Battersea Power Station is a long-term project, being part of it at the early stages has huge benefits for us.”

Overall the business has had a good start to its new financial year. “In P1 we were in almost double digital growth, and that’s excluding Deliveroo – we measure growth as bums or seats, the core business,” he said. “It’s not as good as last year, but we are still nearly double digit and if we can stay in that positive territory then we’ll be very happy. “

Evans said that after the Ealing opening that should be it for new sites in 2018, but he said the business had been building up its head office “ready for doing more in 2019 - but it is still very much slow considered growth”.

Mike Statham was promoted from financial controller to finance director earlier this year. Ashleigh Muir joined from Casual Dining Group as brand manager in October, while Robert Palmer Williams – whose previous roles include regional managing director at Nando’s – joined as operations manager at the beginning of January.

Evans said: “There is still very much a halo effect around the Asian category. Wagamama are also in some quite strong growth and I think that’s partly to do with the fact they haven’t got an enormous amount of competition, but I think there is a health and value perception around Asian food,” he said. “There is definitely headroom in what we are doing, and the Asian category generally. We haven’t put up our prices in the five years we are open. So if consumers are tightening their belts we are still very much seen as a value proposition,” he added.

“Our average spend is relatively low compared to other businesses I’ve worked in before, and we have a decent margin and we can afford to hold our nerve when it comes to things like prices,” said Evans.

On location appeal, Evans said Tonkotsu has “a very strong preference for small high street sites”, as “glass and steel boxes are hard to make cosy and intimate”. He said the rents, rates and services charges in a lot of new development, and shopping centres, were still “horrendous”, despite the challenges the market is facing. “We looked at a development, and the service change was as much as the rent we are paying elsewhere, so those types of sites for us are really not top priority, but there are pockets of sensible landlords,” he said.