Brasserie Bar Co begins pub expansion, plans ‘more relaxed’ restaurants

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Brasserie blanc, Want, Public house

Brasserie Bar Co's founder Raymond Blanc and chief executive Mark Derry
Brasserie Bar Co's founder Raymond Blanc and chief executive Mark Derry
Fresh from securing £13.5m of new funding for expansion, Raymond Blanc's Brasserie Bar Co is expecting to open its third White Brasserie Company pub in Orpington later this year and is currently in talks on another four units.

The group, which also owns the Brasserie Blanc restaurant chain, wants to use the funding from ESO Capital​ to open around 20 new sites over the next three years – and chief executive Mark Derry​ says at least 85 per cent of those will be pubs, predominantly inside the M25.

“We are in various stages of negotiation and planning on five units now,” Derry told BigHospitality. “Some of those might take a year to come to fruition because they’re all requiring development.

“We should go on-site on the first in Orpington within the next couple of weeks and it should open in four or five months when we’ve done the building work.

“We want as many White Brasseries as possible. We spent a lot of time focussing on raising this money and we haven’t been focussing on building the pipeline - so we’re working hard at that now.

“The two pubs that we’ve got (in Teddington and Weybridge) are in fairly affluent places and we’re going to try and follow that model with our expansion - our focus will be inside the M25 and we need around 20.”

Brasserie Blanc changes

Brasserie Bar Co owns and operates 19 Brasserie Blanc sites in the UK – seven of which are in London. The group will open its 20th site in Beaconsfield later this month, incorporating a less formal, relaxed style which Derry says will be rolled out to other outlets if successful.

“By being more formal, we’re attracting quite a sophisticated, older market and it would be nice to bring the age profile down a little bit.

“We’re on-track with the Beaconsfield site and it’s going to be a very different style to the other restaurants - the menu will be identical but the presentation will be more laid back.

“If what we do in Beaconsfield works then we’ll pursue that across the estate, but we’re naturally cautious. We’ve got a really good business - it’s in six per cent like-for-like growth in the year to date. So we just want to refine it a bit rather than revolutionise it.”

Speedy growth

Brasserie Bar Co will use some of the funding to continue opening more Brasserie Blanc restaurants, at a pace of one or two a year. It is currently in the negotiations stage for one more site.

Speaking of the decision to turn to ESO Capital – which provides tailor-made capital solutions to SMEs – for funding, Derry added: “Given our ambitions and the speed that we want to grow, we’re at a size and stage where the banks are more cautious than we are.

“In order to grow at speed, we’ve given up a bit of the price in order to have the flexibility to just get on with it. “We’ve take the bank completely out - we have no bank debt. We’re now fully funded to expand.”

Pub focus

As the entrepreneur behind the successful Loch Fyne business,​ which achieved nine consecutive years of like-for-like growth, Derry says the majority of the new funding will be used to grow the group’s two-strong portfolio of premium food-led pubs.

“We’re very, very focussed on pubs right now. We recognise that good food requires good cooking – it’s a skill. Our focus is to cook everything from fresh, for which we need good chefs.

“The two pubs we’ve got have been in constant growth since the day that we took them on just over three years ago. We like businesses that are predictable and not particularly fashion-driven.

“For the expansion, we’re looking for free-of-tie leases and we’ve evolved our own lease which is designed to replace the tie and we think it’s a lot more attractive to both parties.”

Brasserie Bar Co is currently in the process of recruiting a managing director to oversee its pub business. Private equity group Core Capital remains Brasserie Bar Co’s primary investor.

Related topics: Restaurants, Pubs & Bars, Venues, Business

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