The UK franchise operator for international eat-in bakery chain Le Pain Quotidien (LPQ) is planning to open four new London sites over the next few months, two of them before March.

Village du Pain, which owns the UK and Ireland master franchise, has 10 stores around London. A Hampstead outlet is due to open in December, with Notting Hill Gate following in February. Openings in Covent Garden and Parsons Green are "probable" during 2009, said the company.

Currently there are no stores outside London and no plans for any. "We look all the time," said a spokeswoman. "But it’s a big organisational step." It would only really work if four new stores opened in one region, with one of them taking a lead role, she added.

The shops bake-off part-baked bread. This is frozen and shipped over from a central bakery in Belgium, where the international chain is based. Each site makes its own sweet baked goods.