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Luke Johnson acquires Gail’s bakeries; eyes rapid expansion

By Becky Paskin , 10-May-2011
Last updated on 12-May-2011 at 18:04 GMT

Serial investor Luke Johnson has acquired an undisclosed share of The Bread Factory owner Bread Ltd, and plans to expand the group’s London-based bakery and café concept Gail’s by five sites this year.

The high-end artisan bakery and café concept, which serves a selection of freshly-made bread, pastries, sandwiches and preserves, was launched in 2003 and now operates nine sites across London.

Johnson, who also backs the 44-strong café chain Patisserie Valerie, now intends to roll-out Gail’s to an additional five sites in affluent London suburbs by the end of 2011, ultimately aiming to grow the brand to 20-30 sites.

Property consultant Stephen & Matthews has been instructed by Johnson to find sites of between 1,000-3,000sqft to trade as Gail’s outlets.

Johnson, who acquired a share of Bread Ltd through investment arm Risk Capital for an undisclosed sum, said: “We are pleased to partner with Tom and his team to help Bread Ltd continue making a top quality product and make it even more accessible to customers.

However Mike Simmonds from Risk Capital Partners said the expansion of Gail's would only go ahead so long as the premium standard of food and service was not affected.

"What we're most concerned with is quality," he said. "This is a high-end, premium food offering and it needs the right community to support it. These communities do tend to be in affluent, London suburbs. There is a demand from people who love quality food and also a coffee shop venue as well."

Production

Gail's currently has a central production kitchen supplying the smaller venues within the group, although Mike Simmonds from Risk Capital Partners confirmed they were currently in advanced negotiations for a new, larger property.

Gail’s currently operates cafes in Battersea, Chiswick, Crouch End, Exmouth Market, Hampstead, Notting Hill, Queen’s Park and St. John’s Wood. It recently acquired a ninth venue in South Kensington that is set to launch soon.

Besides Patisserie Valerie Johnson also holds shares in Giraffe, Feng Sushi and 3Sixty Restaurants (formerly Ego and Rocket Restaurants).

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