Italian restaurant and deli chain Carluccio’s has recorded a 66% increase in pre-tax profit to £5.3m in the 52 weeks to 23 September.

Six new stores were opened in the period, including a flagship store in Covent Garden, London. Five further new stores are planned for 2008, including St. Pancras and Heathrow Terminal 5.

“We now have 34 stores trading successfully and have extended the geographical scope of our brand with two openings in Manchester and one in Stratford upon Avon,” said Stephen Gee, executive chairman.

“In addition, I am very pleased to announce the signing of a franchise and development agreement for the whole of Ireland which will extend the Carluccio’s brand to a new market of customers.