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Las Iguanas aims for over 40 sites with two new openings this year

By Luke Nicholls , 25-Jul-2012
Last updated on 25-Jul-2012 at 17:48 GMT

Latin American restaurant chain Las Iguanas plans to expand from 27 sites to over 40 across the UK in the next two years, with two new outlets opening this autumn in Plymouth and Aberdeen, BigHospitality has learnt.

There are no intentions for the casual dining chain, co-founded by Eren Ali and Ajith Jaya-Wickrema in 1991, to become ‘another ubiquitous roll-out’, but it does hope to embark on a period of regular expansion in previously unexplored locations.

“There are a lot of places that we’re not in, and there’s always people asking us on Twitter to open at certain locations,” said Lucy Harwood, Las Iguanas’ marketing & brand manager.

“There’s a lot of opportunity to now roll the brand out right across the country. We’ll be looking at each location individually and it’s just about getting the great sites at the places we want to be. We’re looking at opening new sites every year, getting up to anywhere from 40 upwards within the next couple of years.”

New Las Iguanas restaurants

The two new Las Iguanas restaurants will open in late October, both with approximately 200 covers and a bar area.

  • Las Iguanas Aberdeen marks the brand's first venture into Scotland, with a site in Aberdeen’s Union Square shopping centre, which already features the likes of Frankie & Benny’s, Giraffe, Nando’s and Wagamama.
  • The Plymouth site will be located in Royal William Yard on the outskirts of the city, in a listed building within an old naval development which currently features a lounge and bakery. 

Speaking of the business’s ability to consistently expand over the past 21 years, Harwood added: “Right back from when the concept was founded, it was really quite different and there really weren’t any major Latin American groups in the UK. We’ve just maintained our ethos - offering a mix of food from what is such a colourful continent. We’re not just restricted to Mexican and we have a really comprehensive menu.”

Summer sales boost

And, with the London 2012 Olympics opening this week, Harwood believes a number of Las Iguanas restaurants will see a real sales boost over the summer period.

“In London, we will absolutely see sales increase. Especially with certain factors such as shopping centres having increased Sunday trading hours, and we’re also doing some promotions tied in with the Summer period.

“Generally, there’s a level of activity going on in London at the moment which we expect to be beneficial to us, particularly for our Westfield Stratford and South Bank restaurants.”

Harwood also spoke to BigHospitality about Las Iguanas’ approach to discounting for our recent report on how to break the discount bind. The brand has seen like-for-like sales increase despite eschewing across-the-board special offers and money-off promotions.

Following new restaurant openings earlier this year in Kingston and Cambridge, Las Iguanas was earlier this month awarded the highest accolade from Investors in People (IiP), achieving the Gold Standard award which sets the business in the top 3.2 per cent of liP-accredited organisations.