Compass Group is reportedly in talks to expand its franchise deal with Irish sandwich bar chain O'Briens.
The world's largest caterer, which operates 17 O'Briens franchises in the UK, is currently looking through the books of the 230-strong chain.
It is believed the sites will be run by Compass Group division SSP (Select Service Partners), which operates the Upper Crust and Caffê Ritazza branded outlets.
An industry insider said: "The deal is in due diligence. Compass is looking to diversify out of business and industry and chief executive Mike Bailey is under pressure from the City to deliver good news."
But a City source said the deal would only be welcome if Compass moved for O'Briens concession sites at airports and railway stations. "If it moved for its high-street sites, it would go down like a lead balloon, given the current climate."
A Compass Group spokeswoman said the group did not comment on industry speculation and denied that the company was looking to extend its involvement with the Irish chain.
A spokesman for O'Briens declined to comment.