Paul to 'double' UK estate over next five years as it looks to begin franchising

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Paul to 'double' UK estate over next five years as it looks to begin franchise expansion

Related tags: Paul UK, bakery, Restaurant, Casual dining

French artisan bakery group Paul hopes to double the size of its UK estate in the next five years through a combination of franchising and in-house expansion.

The 38-strong chain, which is predominantly based in the capital, tells BigHospitality ​that it intends to open regional locations in towns and cities across the UK through a franchise model, which was first announced back in December​.

It also aims to continue growing its presence in London through the additional expansion of company-owned sites.

Initial discussions have already begun with a number of perspective franchising partners, with the business aiming to launch its first franchise location in the UK before the end of the year. 

Areas for potential growth currently being considered include Scotland, the north of England, Wales and the Midlands.

"I think that over the next five years we can double of the size of our estate," says Mark Hilton, chief executive of Paul UK.

"We've drawn up what we think is an appropriate plan for expansion; it's not conservative, but it's also not aggressive.

"Our end of year target is to have signed up a number of franchisees and hopefully launched our first franchise location, with a view to having a larger pipeline of openings set for 2022."

Paul is promising to provide franchisees with a national supply chain, economies of scale, and a flexible retail format to fit any location as well as training and help with recruitment, marketing and PR.

Partners will be offered a choice of three restaurant models – Café, of which sites are 1,500sqft+; Express, with venues between 500 and 800sqft+; and Kiosk, with sites around 500sqft.

Café sites are typically situated in busy footfall locations in town and city centres as well as suburban villages and shopping centres, while the Express model has yellow branding and is positioned to fit in travel hubs and high footfall areas and operates a more casual self service style.

The Kiosk model, meanwhile, is considered best suited to high footfall areas such as train stations, travel hubs and shopping malls and can be designed to look like more permanent fixtures, pop-up venues or grab-and-go concepts.

While Paul will only be looking to grow its regional UK portfolio through franchises, openings in the capital will continue to be company owned.

The group recently launched a new Express location in West Hampstead, and hopes to open at least one more London site this year. 

"When you look at London, there’s clearly further opportunities for us to grow," says Hilton.

"Particularly in south London, where the brand is less well represented.

"While we only really plan to open one or two more sites in the capital this year, it is our intention to be more aggressive with our London opening schedule in 2022."

Paul opened its first bakery in Croix, near Lille in the North of France, in 1889 and began opening franchises overseas in 1985.

It opened its first London bakery and restaurant in Covent Garden in 2000.

The group has sites in 50 countries globally, the majority of which operate under franchise.

Related topics: Business

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