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Corney & Barrow re-launches with new travel bar concept and global expansion plans

By Luke Nicholls , 31-Jul-2012
Last updated on 31-Jul-2012 at 13:35 GMT

Independent wine merchants Corney & Barrow has officially re-launched with a fresh brand identity and a three-pronged hospitality offering in London comprising C&B Bars, Cabin Travel Bars and Terrace Restaurant and Bars. 

The first Cabin bar opens in Waterloo station today as the flagship venue in the Cabin by Corney & Barrow concept. The business now has a strong intention to venture outside of the capital into other areas of the UK and worldwide.

“There’s definitely an international angle for us,” Lucy Knowles, Corney & Barrow’s managing director, told BigHospitality. “The wine merchants side of the business is obviously global, so we already have a distribution network worldwide.

“We want to roll the Cabin bar concept out across the world. I think the British underpinning and the premium feel that it has would work brilliantly in some of the international airports because they love the Brits. We’ve got a three year plan in place to roll it out into other transport hubs both in the UK and abroad.”

Cabin Travel Bars

Designed in the style of The Orient Express, Cabin by Corney & Barrow offers a British tapas menu, with smaller variations of classics including the posh pork pie, sausage rolls, black pudding and scotch eggs.

The food sits alongside a premium bar offering with martini cocktails, exclusive ales and 24 wines by the Corney & Barrow wine merchants. Also on offer is take-out coffee, muffins and made-to-order picnic hampers.

“It’s our mission to put the romance back into travel,” added Knowles. “Featuring two live departure boards, we want Cabin to be the start of an exciting journey.  Having thought long and hard about what customers want, we know queuing isn’t it - hence our introduction of the self-service wine machine, which will work like a pre-paid Oyster card system.

“Cabin will be a destination bar that’s also ideal for meetings.  A haven where you can duck out of the madness of a busy station and find your own refuge, complete with great food, wine and service.

“Future bars under this format would only feature in transport hubs, stations and airports. That works for us at the moment, so that’s where we’re targeting our site finding.”

C&B Bars

With 11 venues in London, C&B Bars is less corporate with more emphasis on food, open kitchens, provenance and cask ale. The Bars are being revamped to remain premium but more accessible.

The C&B Bar in Mason’s Avenue will be the first of the C&B Bars portfolio to re-open under the new identity in mid-August. 

Knowles said: “We want C&B Bars to be seen as bars in financial institutions across the world. There’s no reason that we wouldn’t open a C&B Bar in Hong Kong.”

Terrace Restaurant & Bars

Corney & Barrow also plans to expand its Terrace offering in the coming year, following the success of its flagship restaurant, Devonshire Terrace, which has seen a 30 per cent increase in revenue since the business purchased the site last year.

“We have an opening plan around the Terrace concept as well,” added Knowles. “The brand is a lot less specific in terms of the concept, it’s a real chameleon brand; by day it’s a smart restaurant and by night it’s a buzzing bar with a really cool vibe.

“The challenge with Terrace will be in finding the right location. The restaurant market is very contested, so we’ve got to make sure we always has something that sets us apart, so for us the location of the new venues will be the main challenge for Terrace.”

‘Time to move on’

Speaking more broadly about Corney & Barrow’s decision to revamp the brand and launch the three restaurant and bar sub-brands, Knowles concluded: “Last autumn we took time to reflect on what’s been an unforgettable 30 years serving the City and felt it was time to move on. To progress, not stand still. So we’ve had a makeover, but stayed true to ourselves building our ‘work hard, play harder’ philosophy into everything we offer.”

“I think the recession has made us really re-think our position. The landscape of the city has changed enormously and, couple with the way the market has moved, it made us look to our customers and find out what would really work for them.”

Corney & Barrow placed 25th on the Zolfo Cooper Profit Tracker – an annual list of the 50 most profitable eating and drinking out companies in the UK, released earlier this year in association with our sister publication M&C Report. The brand achieved growth of 20.3 per cent in the year to April 2012.

For more information on the new brands, visit Corney & Barrow’s new website: www.corney-barrow.co.uk

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