Carluccio's, the food store and café chain, is set to become a significant specialist player in the grocery industry, with analysts predicting this week that it could easily expand from its 27 stores to more than 80 in the next ten years.

Ahead of Carluccio's financial year-end next month, Charles Stanley Securities said it believed that the chain could open six or seven stores a year, beyond its stated aim of five.

The chain, often seen as a café business, now has retail sales within its deli accounting for 22% of total turnover.

James Dawson, an analyst at Charles Stanley Securities, said that he expected turnover to be up 23% to £45.4m, with pre-tax profit up 20% to £4.2m for the year to September. Within these figures, he expected retail sales to increase 20% to £10m for the year, with that figure due to rise 40% to £14m over the next two years.

As Carluccio's expansion to date had used company cash rather than debt, Dawson predicted that it could grow rapidly in the future. "This provides the company with an opportunity to expand its estate at a faster rate. Given the current level of net cash and its cash-generating capacity, there is clearly capacity for it to step up openings."

The chain was in the top ten specialists in The Grocer's World's Finest Food Retailers last year .