Poke House: "We're taking a very opportunistic expansion approach"

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Poke House: "We're taking a very opportunistic expansion approach"

Related tags: Poke House, expansion, Casual dining, Multi-site

Italian poke chain Poke House plans to open 65 UK sites in the next two years, with the bulk of its estate expected to eventually be focused outside of London.

The group made its UK debut in the capital back in June following the acquisition of UK poke brand Ahi Poké​, and since then the group has been busy converting those sites into Poke House locations.

Three sites have already relaunched in Portobello, Victoria and Spitalfields, respectively, with a further three in Fitzrovia, Canary Wharf and the Bloomberg Arcade set to open by the end of the year. 

"Portobello has been a big success and we’re seeing sustained growth across all of our sites," says Matteo Pichi, who founded Poke House with Vittoria Zanetti in Italy back in 2018. 

"Poke House is a different proposition to other poke brands, and I think people understand that." 

Pichi tells BigHospitality ​that the group aims to grow to 65 sites in the UK over the next two years.

While initially concentrating on establishing the brand in London, the plan is to only have a total of about 15 locations in the capital, with the rest set to open in secondary cities around the country.

"We're taking a very opportunistic expansion approach in the UK," he says.

"London is the main city, and the most important market for us. But we also want to have a strong reach outside of the capital.

PH-Landscape-1

"It's how we grew the business in Italy, and is the strategy we're also following now in Spain, France and Portugal. Across the business we want a total of 300 openings by 2024, mainly in Europe, but also possibly with sites in the US."

An 'agile business'

Earlier this year Poke House completed a €20 million Series B funding round to help drive its expansion aims.

Pichi says the upsurge of office workers adopting more flexible working-from-home patterns means that opening in places with strong delivery connections is crucial. 

"It’s about finding the right real estate. Often we target city locations on the high street, in shopping centres and near offices. But we're a very agile business, and flexible working gives us wider scope to look for locations. It means we can be brave, and move strongly and faster to open in more residential areas too."

Poke House serves an 'ever-evolving' menu that includes a signature range of House Specials, but also gives customers the choice to create their own poke bowls using a range of bases and core proteins including salmon, tuna, shrimp or chicken. 

Poke-House-bowl_2

The brand is described as offering a combination of 'Californian soul and Hawaiian taste'.

In the UK, all Poke House locations are currently company owned, but Pichi doesn't rule out the prospect of franchising in the future.

"Our strategy has always been that when we can, we open company-owned sites. It doesn’t mean we’re not open to franchising, we have started in Italy and looking at opportunities in the Middle East. And we’ll be interested in exploring options like that in the UK as soon as we feel that the brand is strong enough to be understood by our potential franchisee.

"We’re not just selling poke, we’re selling an experience and if the brand is known enough for that to be easily communicated then we will be open to it."

Related topics: Business & Legislation, Casual Dining

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