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BIRD considers regional expansion for 2017

By James Wallin , 23-Mar-2016

BIRD considers regional expansion for 2017

BIRD, the free­range fried chicken concept, will target expansion into the rest of the UK in 2017 with Leeds and Manchester identified as targets. 

Co-founder Paul Hemings told BigHospitality's sister publication MCA that the expansion focus at the moment was on peripheral areas of London and ensuring the offer in the existing three sites was optimised.

He said the second half of 2017 was likely to see the concept expand across this UK, but stressed this needed to be paired with a re­-education of consumers around fried chicken.

Hemings said there were currently no plans to add to the operational structure, which sees he and his wife Cara Ceppetill overseeing day to day operations, but conceded this would need to change with a nationwide expansion.

He told MCA the company had strong backing from its investors for its short-­term growth plans but said 'as a former banker I have a lot of respect for institutional money'.

The most recent opening for the group was at Camden’s Chalk Farm Road in January, where he said the takeaway element had been particularly strong.


He said: “Our priority at the moment is that we opened three sites in two years and we still feel we have work to do to get the offer exactly right. We don’t want to be one of those companies that tries to expand too soon.

“But we know how long the process of site-­finding takes. We saw 50 sites before we chose Islington. So we are constantly looking at new locations. It’s not saying anything startling to point out that zone 1 now is out of bounds to most people. Our strategy is to look beyond the obvious destinations – the Sohos and Covent Gardens. We are looking at peripheral areas of London that haven’t got hot yet.

“At the moment we like to be able to jump on the tube and visit every site so London is the focus for this year and probably the first part of 2017.

“But we do want to expand wider in 2017 we will look at places like Manchester and Leeds.

“There is a big challenge but an even bigger opportunity in re­educating people about fried chicken. There is a strongly held belief that fried chicken can only be one thing and there are a lot of people who believe that because of that it’s not for them. Those are the people we need to convert." 

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