Vapiano, the Italian casual dining group, has appointed Rob Wickenden, formerly of Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), as its new real estate and development manager.

Wickenden joins Vapiano, which will open its fourth UK site and first outside London later this summer in Manchester’s Corn Exchange development, after two years at M&B as a property acquisitions manager.

He also had a spell as an acquisition surveyor at Wagamama.

He is set to lead the roll out of Vapiano in the UK, which will include the opening of a site in Ealing.

The group, which is led by Phil Sermon and saw turnover in the UK climb to £9.1m in the year to 31 December 2014, up from £7.5m, has taken a ground floor unit at the Bond Street entrance to Land Securities £100m Ealing Filmworks development.

The three-strong company has taken units 4 and 5 at the Bond Street entrance to the scheme, which is set for completion in 2018.

The group is currently negotiating on a number of other sites. Sermon told M&C: “We have sites in various stages in the pipeline: we are at heads of terms on a couple and have exchanged subject to license on one.”