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Jerome Tafani of Chipotle talks UK expansion

By Sophie Witts contact

- Last updated on GMT

Jerome Tafani of Chipotle talks UK expansion

Related tags: Chipotle, London

US chain Chipotle opens 2-3 restaurants a week in America, though so far its UK expansion has been more guarded. Jerome Tafani, executive director for European business development at Chipotle, spoke to BigHospitality about the future of the brand in the UK.

Chipotle has chosen to open its seventh London site in the City​, why this location?

When you are in London you cannot ignore the City. Many people there work internationally and are exposed to our brand in the US, so back in London they know it will provide good quality, American food suitable for a short lunch break.

There are about 100,000 people commuting in to the area each day, so there is definitely room for us to open another site in the area.

What are your long term expansion plans for the UK?

We don’t want to run before we can walk. We do everything internally and are developing more staff in order to open new sites.

The potential is there to open 200 sites in ten years, but I can’t say how fast we will get there.

We have space for more sites in central London but are starting to look at expanding to Greater London and other big cities. No decisions have been made yet but I think in the next two or three years we will open in areas such as Manchester, Leeds and Cardiff.

What are the main differences between the UK and US market?

Chipotle is just getting started in the UK, so we have to work on brand awareness.

People get out to restaurants more often in the US than the UK, but London is one of the most dynamic markets for restaurants in Europe. People love novelty and are very aware of what makes good food and where it comes from, so it is the perfect market for Chipotle.

chipotle-london

Chipotle is committed to using sustainable, high quality produce. Is it more difficult to get a high standard of Mexican ingredients in the UK?

It’s much easier to get better quality produce in the UK than in the US because EU regulations don’t allow for bad practice. In the US we’ve had an issue with pork suppliers because we’re not happy with their behaviour, so we are now using some UK companies to supply our US restaurants.

Are there any additional challenges to opening in the UK?​.

One challenge for us is to train up enough people to open more stores. We do everything internally and promote everybody, from the crew to the general manager of the company. These promotions take time, but we’ve seen that our strong people culture helps us to deliver a unique experience to our customers. 

Related topics: Business, People, Restaurants, Small Talk

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