Healthy fast food brand Leon is set to launch a new Asian concept while expanding its original offering both in the UK and overseas.
John Vincent, who founded the company with Henry Dimbleby and chef Allegra McEvedy in 2004, said the new concept which will be “more in the Asian space in a Leon type kitchen”, would be launched in April.
The revelation was made as the company celebrated a new agreement with HMSHost International for a series of new openings in railway stations and airports across Europe and the Middle East.
The fast food brand has already worked with the company to open nine Leon locations in the UK and the Netherlands, including a branch in Kings Cross station.
Vincent said: “In 2016 the Leon at Heathrow’s Terminal 2 received the ‘Fast Food/Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) of the Year’ award during the FAB Awards, which shows that bringing people food which tastes good and does them good, is more than welcome for busy travellers. I am proud of our partnership with Autogrill / HMSHost International, they are our extended family and we are very happy to be opening in more places, to serve more people, in partnership with them.”
Walter Seib, CEO of HMSHost International added: “I think this brand has great legs internationally and I know John and his team have bigger plans as well.”
The move comes as Leon eyes up further partnerships that will see it expand into America and other areas of Europe, while the hospitality industry in the UK continues to face significant pressures.
This year the company hopes to open six new venues in the UK, but Vincent said it should be in the position to launch 10.
He said the company had scaled back its UK ambitions in light of an over-inflated property market and “astronomical” business rates.
As he watches peers closing branches and seeking emergency finance packages Vincent said the Government had been “stupid and short sighted” not to see the damage of its policies.
He added: “I wish the government understood what they are doing to the industry – I think they are being irresponsible.”
As the brand expands overseas – the first branch on America’s east coast is expected next year – Vincent stressed that its focus on the wellbeing of its managers, called mums and dads, will see its identity maintained.
Despite his reservations about the UK’s hospitality climate Vincent is focused on responsible expansion to keep Leon sustainable, with long term ambitions of 500 branches in the US.
He said: “We are in the business of fast food and we cannot escape the fact that to be successful we need to keep growing we need to be to scale up that operation. That does not come from ego or wanting to sound like we are going to be really successful, it comes from we won’t have been successful if we do not do that.”
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