Vapiano, the fast-casual pizza-pasta chain from Germany, has hired Peter Richards, former executive vice president and chief development officer for McDonald’s UK, as its new development director as it looks to ramp up its expansion in the country, M&C Report has learnt.

Richards spent 26 years at McDonald’s, heading up the chain’s growth in the North. Under his time as development director he oversaw the opening of around 600 sites in the UK for the fast food chain.

After leaving McDonald’s in 2006, he co-founded Fast & Fresh Restaurants, a Subway development agency with the rights for the sandwich brand in the North West.

Over the last four years the group, which was recently named in the Fast Track 100, has grown from 30 sites to 118 in the region.

Vapiano, which has a presence in 70 locations around the world, opened its first site in the UK in 2008 in Great Portland Street, London, but has so far added just a further unit at Bankside.

M&C Report understands that the company is frustrated by the lack of further openings in the UK and have appointed Richards to purely focus on securing new sites for the brand.

It is thought that the company is also looking for a new UK managing director.