Italian restaurant chain Francesca opens first UK restaurant ahead of expansion and franchise plans

By Peter Ruddick

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Take-out

Italian restaurant chain Francesca has opened its first UK restaurant in London ahead of further expansion in the capital this year and future franchise plans
Italian restaurant chain Francesca has opened its first UK restaurant in London ahead of further expansion in the capital this year and future franchise plans
The UK franchisee of the Italian restaurant chain Francesca has revealed there are plans to open one or two more restaurants in London this year ahead of further expansion and franchise plans for the business.

Francesca launched in the UK in May when a 72-cover restaurant under the fast-casual brand opened in a 1,400 sq.ft site on Baker Street in London.

Master franchisor

However there are now plans to open a second restaurant in a site on Tottenham Court Road if the property can be secured with hopes to open another before the end of the year.

"We will start off in London then maybe the outskirts in good areas with high footfall like Richmond, Wimbledon and Kingston," Paresh Pandya, joint-owner of the chain's UK franchise, told BigHospitality.

After a two and a half year process of discussing how the concept would work here, Pandya and his business partner Sati Dhillon are now the master franchisors for the French-owned brand in this country. Together they plan to open five restaurants themselves but expect the brand to grow further when sub-franchisees are found.

Pandya explained the franchise process within the UK would begin once the flagship Baker Street store was up and running and was ready to be a training base. The businessman revealed he was already in discussion with four potential franchisees to expand the chain in London and cities beyond the capital.

Express element

Francesca was founded by Francesca Albanese in Strasbourg in 1998 and now operates around 80 sites in France but there are also restaurants in Morocco, Switzerland Portugal. There are also plans to expand to Canada next year and a target of operating 100 restaurants by 2013. 

The restaurant focuses on meals prepared fast such as salads, antipasti, lasagne and desserts as well as four types of durum-wheat pasta served with a choice of 18 freshly-made sauces.

Unlike other Francesca restaurants around the world, in the UK the brand also specialises in coffee and a quick-service element. The restaurant is divided into two clear parts - a sit-down restaurant and an express and coffee shop area where the focus is on Italian panini, focaccia and melts.

In the opening two months Pandya explained the majority of the custom had been from diners eating in with about 30 per cent using the takeaway element.

"There aren't many restaurants that do this - authentic fast-casual Italian," Pandya said, explaining the food quality was as good as competitors such as Vapiano and Carluccio's.

"One of the things Francesca has set up is the quality of the products and she travels across Italy to source all the produce from Italy to make the sauces. We have taken on the same kind of concept from her and we have found an Italian supplier here in London who supplies us with authentic meats, cheeses and other ingredients," he concluded.

Related topics: Business, People, Restaurants, Venues

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