Grand Union gears up for next stage of growth with new F&B offering

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

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Grand Union's cocktail menu has quadrupled in size, with sales already up by 20 per cent
Grand Union's cocktail menu has quadrupled in size, with sales already up by 20 per cent
London-based bar operator Grand Union has unveiled plans to triple the size of its estate and eventually expand outside of the capital, having recently rolled out new food and drink menus across its existing eight sites.

The Luke Johnson-backed business is looking to open an average of three venues a year in London until reaching its growth target of 20-25 bars, before venturing into major UK cities.

Founder and chief executive Adam Marshall told BigHospitality: “There’s been a lot of reorganisation within the business after the investment came on from Luke and we’re ready to tackle 2014.

“We have one site in negotiation at the moment which will hopefully open in London in September and maybe another later this year, but 2015 is when we’re going to be in a position to look at four or five sites.

“We wouldn’t look to take on anything less than three a year over the next three or four years, but we could ramp that up to five or six a year in 2016/17.

“London is a protected market and there’s still room for growth and areas that we’d like to venture into there. We’ll then start looking outside of the capital in 2015, in cities like Birmingham, Brighton, Bath, Bristol, Leeds and Manchester.

“There isn’t a defined maximum number of sites. Neither Luke nor I have a fixed goal; we just want to take on good assets that show a healthy return on our capital investment.”

Burgers, Cocktails, Dance

The announcement comes as the eight-strong bar group has revamped its menus to fit with its new ‘Burgers, Cocktails, Dance’ ethos. The food offering now taps into the growing consumer trend of ‘Americanisation’, with burgers, sliders, hot dogs and homemade pizzas all on offer; while the cocktail menu has quadrupled in size with a range of new, creative mixes featuring alongside the classics.

Grand Union's new food offering uses better quality ingredients including Aberdeen Angus beef for its patties

Marshall, who founded Grand Union seven years ago, added: “Customers are looking for differentiation; something a bit more interesting. Grand Union wants to innovate, be ahead of the curve and better appeal to those customers.

“We want to achieve three things with this new offering: better quality ingredients and flavour; a much quicker cooking process for the lunchtime trade; and a better value menu that appeals to a wider range of customers (prices now start at £8 for a burger and fries).  

“We’ve gone through huge amount of staff training and brought in new equipment, but the uptake’s already been great - our cocktail sales are up 25 per cent on a like-for-like basis since we implemented the new menus two weeks ago.”

Grand Union’s existing eight sites are in Kennington, Farringdon, Paddington, Camberwell, Wandsworth, Brixton, Camden and Chancery Lane. Serial restaurant investor Johnson took a 50 per cent stake in the business last year to help drive the expansion.

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