Bird & Bird advises Casual Dining Group on Bella Italia's first international franchise as it opens in India

By Graeme Payne, Christina Pennock


International law firm Bird & Bird has advised Casual Dining Group (CDG), the largest independent operator of mid-market restaurants in the UK, on the first international franchise venture for its Italian restaurant chain Bella Italia.

The landmark restaurant was opened in India last week by franchise partner Wave Hospitality in the Aerocity complex, close to New Delhi's international airport.

Casual Dining Group, which also operates the Café Rouge, Las Iguanas and La Tasca restaurant brands, previously worked with the Bird & Bird team in 2014 on the expansion of Café Rouge into the UAE - the group's first international venture.

The Bird & Bird team consisted of partner Graeme Payne and associate Christina Pennock, who advised the group on the structuring requirements of the franchise relationship, as well as their entry into the Indian market.

Graeme Payne, partner, Bird & Bird said:

"We were thrilled to act for CDG once again with their first international expansion for Bella Italia. CDG are a key player in the casual dining sector, so the Bird & Bird team were delighted to help them break into one of the world's fastest-growing economies. We look forward to continuing the relationship with the group as they continue to expand their operations."

Mark Nelson, managing director of international franchising and concessions, Casual Dining Group said:

"The opening of Bella Italia in India is a strategically significant development for our business, and a very exciting one too, given the boom in casual dining there. As such, it was crucial that we could rely on the best advice available. Bird & Bird have a clear track record in international franchising work, and is the go-to adviser in the international restaurant market. Having worked with Graeme and his international team previously, we knew they really understood our business, so it was a natural fit to appoint them on this important landmark venture."

CDG operates close to 300 restaurants in the UK, including 97 Bella Italia venues.