Casual-dining brand Brasserie Blanc has set its expansion hopes on hotels as it seeks opportunities away from “saturated” high streets.
Mark Derry, director of Brasserie Bar Co, which operates both Brasserie Blanc and pub brand the White Brasserie Company, told The Caterer that its pub arm had inspired the move.
The company saw its pubs achieving success in more remote sites where there was less competition and a “relatively captive audience”, so sought something similar for its casual-dining restaurants.
Derry, pictured with Raymond Blanc, who developed the concepts, explained: “In county town high streets there is an issue with over-supply. No matter how good you are, every time a new thing opens for a period of time people go away and trial it and it inevitably eats into everyone’s sales a little bit.
“We had existing sites adjacent to, or associated with, hotels in Cheltenham and Bath. In the case of Bath we approached the owners and said why don’t we do everything, all your breakfasts, etc. So having been there with just the site on the corner of their property we went to doing everything for them and that has shown success and has created resilience against competition.”
The company has since opened within a Marriott hotel in Bournemouth and is set to operate within another in Manchester. Derry said it would “happily open two or three branches a year” within hotels and is optimistic it will see “similar success”.
He added: “Until the high street calms down a bit we are not going to be opening more sites on the high street – not for the foreseeable future.”
As other casual-dining operators struggle, with Prezzo, Byron and Jamie’s Italian all seeking CVAs in 2018, Brasserie Blanc appears quietly confident.
Derry said: “I think we spend most of our time looking at ourselves but we would be mad not to notice other people are struggling, why they’re struggling for me is predominantly over-supply. We can complain about Brexit and all the rest of it, but the harsh reality is in many of these markets there are too many offers for the number of residents.”
The director said Brasserie Blanc was “happy with its estate” and not considering closing sites.
In January this year the Brasserie Bar Co reported a 14% increase in turnover to £46.8m due to new openings.