The group will open its next restaurant at Westfield Stratford shopping centre in March, with a 10th venue expected to follow later this year and the first outside of London in early 2015.
Ping Pong’s chief executive Art Sagiryan told BigHospitality: “We’re in a good position to expand. We have a capacity to grow by another 20 to 25 sites in a period of three to four years, both in and outside of London.
“We hope to open one more this year, we’re not exactly sure when and where, and we’re planning to open one outside of London in the first quarter of 2015. We’ll look at cities that match our demographics, like Manchester, Bristol and Liverpool. Then it will just be a case of finding the right site.
“We can’t be the Wagamama of this world just yet. We don’t have an extremely aggressive expansion plan with private equity or an investor behind us. We’re growing organically at the moment so we’re a bit more choosy."
Ping Pong’s new Westfield Stratford branch is set to open on 3 March and is the second site to feature the group’s new design, which is lighter and more contemporary. Over £500,000 has been spent on the restaurant, which will feature a cocktail bar dim sum counter and ‘tea bar’.
Speaking about the decision to implement the new layout at all forthcoming venues, Sagiryan added: “Since we launched in 2005, customer expectations have changed and we need to reflect that. We’ll initially only apply the new design to new sites, but if existing venues become in need of a complete makeover then we’ll do so.
“In today’s market, it’s not any harder to keep businesses afloat and successful – success ultimately comes from you delivering value for money, quality products and a good customer experience – it’s actually securing new sites that can be the real challenge.”
“A number of casual dining chains have been rolled out on the back of huge capital availability and they’ve been prepared to pay high premiums. And with all of these burger companies coming out of the US, paying ridiculous sums of money for prime sites, market expectations have shifted in terms of what the premiums should be.”
Ping Pong opened its first site featuring the new design at Wembley’s Designer Outlet in mid-December. The group’s other UK restaurants are in Market Place, St Katharine Docks, Westbourne Grove, Bow Bells house, Soho, St Christopher’s Place and Southbank.