Camino confirms UK expansion plans

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Tapas, London

Camino's founders Richard Bigg and Nigel Foster opened the first site in King's Cross in 2007
Camino's founders Richard Bigg and Nigel Foster opened the first site in King's Cross in 2007
The Spanish restaurant revolution in London is set to take another turn next year as Camino, the four-strong tapas restaurant and bar group, is embarking on an ambition expansion programme to reach 10 sites over the next three years.

The company, which opened its first restaurant in King’s Cross in 2007, will use the £3m of funding it received last year from the British Growth Fund (BGF)​ to kick-start the expansion, with a particular focus on central London and the West End.

Owner Richard Bigg told BigHospitality: “The plan is for a total of 10 sites, by opening an average of two a year. It will be strictly in London for now – we’d like to be further west. We’ll just have to bite the bullet and pay the additional rent but a prime spot will give guaranteed footfall.

“It’s a bit harder for us to find sites because we need an A4 licence – we need to be able to sell drinks without food. So we’re much more restricted but we’ve just got to try harder to find the sites.

“I’d love to have two more by the end of next year but there are no guarantees. I’ve had a lot of potential properties shown to me but none of them have been quite right – there’s no point taking risks.”

Camino’s existing outlets are in King’s Cross, Canary Wharf, Monument and Blackfriars. Christmas bookings are up by 50 per cent across the estate and the group recently appointed Tsara Taylor, the former financial controller of Carluccio’s, as its first finance director to begin this next phase of growth.

Spanish revolution

The business, which serves a tapas menu with Spanish wines and beers, is looking to expand at a similar rate to fellow Spanish restaurant group, Ibérica, which recently revealed plans to expand from three to 10 sites across the UK over the next five years. But Bigg said he was happy to have the increased competition.  

“It’s really positive for us,” he said. “It demonstrates that high quality Spanish food is out there. The more people hear that message, the more they’ll buy into Spanish concepts.

“I know Marcos (Fernández Pardo – Iberica’s director) well and I really respect what he does. And the other guys – the likes of Copita, Brindisa and Pizarro – all know each other and respect each other too. We’re all unanimous on one thing: we can’t bear it if someone opens a bad Spanish restaurant.

“This increased competition ultimately proves that there’s so much space to progress into – if you look at the Italian and Chinese markets in London you’ll quickly realise that there’s huge room for development in the Spanish restaurant market as well.”

Dinner with the Boss

Bigg was speaking to BigHospitality at a recent ‘Dinner with the Boss’ event - a supperclub-style induction for new starters at the company, whereby the restaurateur takes time to explain his vision to every new team member over tapas, charcoal-grilled meat and fish, cava and sherry.

“These events help to relax the new staff members and the feedback we get from them is great,” he added. They learn so much more about the concept and the brand, and I think it can help with staff retention.

“Having 10 Camino’s will mean more opportunities for these staff members and many managers will be promoted from within, which will make growth a lot easier.”

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