International chef Raymond Blanc has announced plans to quit Birmingham's restaurant scene, ending his nine-year association with the city.

Blaming "high rents", the culinary expert is closing the Brindleyplace restaurant Brasserie Blanc in the city he once said would emerge as the "gastronomic capital of England", with the potential for "as many as five Michelin-starred restaurants".

It will shut for a major renovation programme before re-opening in the spring as Italian diner Piccolino - the sister restaurant of the city's popular Bank restaurant.

In a statement, executive John Lederer said the Brasserie Blanc chain had been forced to try to "push water uphill".

"This sale reflects our intention to focus our attention on the new-style Brasserie Blanc concept serving local communities away from the high rent attached to major city centre sites," he said.

"The reputation of Le Petit Blanc suffered as a consequence of the administration in 2003 of that company and we have found the repositioning of the restaurant in Birmingham to be a particularly unfulfilling task.

"Rather than continue to push water uphill, we have decided to focus on growing the Brasserie Blanc business in those old locations that are trading excellently and in our new ones."

Brasserie Blanc general manager Steve Gething added: "The restaurant has been sold by Brasserie Blanc to the Individual Restaurant Company and it will be converted into an Italian restaurant. "We are just waiting for the landlord to agree to the transfer and then we will get a date for closure which will be within the next five to seven days.

"There is a sadness at the closure - some of the staff have been here a long time - but it is also the start of a new chapter for the restaurant. It is not going to be left an empty shell."

Staff at the eaterie have been told jobs will be available at Piccolino. Yesterday its sister restaurant Bank welcomed the news. Bank general manager Brett Boyers said: "I think it is a great opportunity. Obviously we are in a different market but it is a well-known establishment - a very popular brand."

Although Mr Boyers said he was unable to comment on whether restaurants in the area faced high rents, he said: "I believe you get what you pay for. Brindleyplace is an ideal, secure location with good parking, is ideally located and I think that site is worth the money."

Gary Taylor, director of Argent, the developer behind Brindleyplace, said it was the "end of an era".

"We wish them all the best for the future," he said. "Raymond Blanc's decision to open a restaurant at Brindleyplace more than a decade ago played a significant part in helping the estate establish the reputation that it enjoys today and we will always be grateful for that. However,

Brindleyplace has evolved since then and will continue to do so."

A spokeswoman for Marketing Birmingham added: "It is a shame that a well-known restaurant will no longer have a presence in Birmingham."

But, she added, the new restaurant would still attract visitors to the area.

In 2003, the restaurant's parent group collapsed into administration after group debts of £1 million owed to about 200 creditors piled up.

The restaurant and its sister UK eateries were later sold to Loch Fyne Restaurants and again changed hands in October 2005 following a £21.8 million takeover.

Last month, Brasserie Blanc snubbed a shopping centre in Liverpool after it decided not to open there because, according to Mr Lederer, it was "slightly too posh for a precinct".