The group, which operates high-end restaurant Mango Tree in London’s Belgravia as well as well as Chai Wu, located on the fifth floor of Harrods in Knightsbridge, and Chi Kitchen, a pan-Asian restaurant created as an exclusive brand for Debenhams, has appointed Alison Vickers, a former director at Yo! Sushi, as its international F&B consultant as part of its planned expansion across the UK and Europe.
Mango Tree Worldwide operates 70 restaurants in 14 countries serving Thai and southeast Asian cuisine. It says the new partnership with Vickers will help its achieve its target of reaching 100 restaurants worldwide by 2020.
The company says it is looking to expand in the UK, western Europe and Scandinavia with a particular focus on “non-traditional locations” for a Thai restaurant brand, including transport hubs such as airports and railway stations. The group already operates in this sector elsewhere, with sites in Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport and Tokyo station.
The group has also created grab and go concepts such as Mango Tree Kitchen, which it says are perfectly suited to transport hubs.
“We have already started launching concepts that are well-suited to transport hubs, where diners are increasingly seeking a healthier alternative to fast food,” says Trevor MacKenzie, Mango Tree’s global managing director.
“With its light, fresh flavours, Thai cuisine meets this need perfectly.”
The group estimates there to be around 2,000 Thai restaurants in the UK, prominently in town and city centre locations, but believes targeting commuters with Thai food remains untapped.
“Thai has become one of the most sought-after global cuisines in the UK, and I envisage significant opportunities to expand the Mango Tree footprint to key destinations – including major airports and railway stations,” says Vickers.
Mango Tree is not the only Asian restaurant group that is looking to move into grab and go the burgeoning food sector in transport hubs. Noodle chain Wagamama is expected to launch a food-to-go concept under its new ownership with The Restaurant Group, which could see the brand enter airports and railway stations for the first time.