Casual Dining Group hopes Ireland franchise will improve performance

Alys Key
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Las Iguanas will open in Dublin (Source: Dominic Alves)

The owner of Las Iguanas and Bella Italia is setting its sights on expansion in the EU with its first franchise deal in the Republic of Ireland.

Casual Dining Group (CDG) has signed exclusive rights to Las iguanas and Bella Italia to retaurateur Robert O'Donoghue.

The group currently operates in eight countries including the UK, South Africa, India and locations in the Middle East.

The first site to open will be a Las Iguanas in Dublin in the new-year, with further restaurants opening on a site availability basis.

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Mark Nelson, managing director of concessions and franchising at CDG: “We have several brands that have cut their teeth in the UK and are now earning their stripes across the globe.

“Ireland was a natural fit for a franchise partner, due to its cultural similarities with the UK. We’re delighted to have an experienced, hands-on operator like Robert flying the flag for our Las Iguanas and Bella Italia brands, and we look forward to helping support his business as it looks to grow.”

Casual dining companies in the UK have been hit by inflationary pressures making ingredients more expensive. Expansion overseas has become a priority for many operators as they seek to offset the weaker pound at home.

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O’Donoghue currently owns and oversees the Caffe Misto and Kubo brands.

He said: “Casual Dining Group operates excellent household brands and possesses a wealth of knowledge and expertise. There’s a massive opportunity for its brands in Ireland and I’m delighted to be working together to create exceptional dining experiences across the country.

“I have fond memories of eating at Bella Italia when I visited the UK in younger days and recently dined at Las Iguanas on a trip to London. I love both concepts and am confident their look, feel and atmosphere are the perfect match for Ireland."

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