Carluccio’s, the Italian restaurant and delicatessen chain, has announced that, for the 16 weeks to 13 January, turnover growth was up 18%.

In an annual trading update statement last week, the com-pany said Christmas trading was firm and in line with the board’s expectations, but added: "Conditions are undoubtedly more challenging than a year ago."

Carluccio’s bakery range includes ciappe Ligurian bread, bruschettine al rosmarino, sandoliva olive grissini and baci di dama - traditional Piedmont biscuit kisses. Although the board believes that consumer spending will become tighter, it remains positive about the trend towards eating out.

The company’s minimum five-store opening target for the 2008 financial year is on track, with two Carluccio’s opened since the year end. These were at Stratford-upon-Avon and Spinningfields, Manchester.

The company’s contractors have completed its third site, in Heathrow airport, Terminal 5, due to open at the end of March 2008. An extra two sites have already been secured and announced for the 2009 financial year: the first in Leicester and the second in Bristol.

The company now trades from 34 locations.