Restaurant group Camile Thai Kitchen is planning a major UK expansion drive in 2021 after seeing a rise in demand for its delivery service during lockdown.
The company said it will open seven UK sites and eight in Ireland this year, creating more than 300 full- and part-time jobs. Around 80 of these roles will be in the UK, with new openings set for Epsom in Surrey and the south London suburbs of Twickenham and Streatham.
Camile was launched in 2010 by entrepreneur Brody Sweeney (pictured), who founded Irish sandwich bar chain O'Briens, and now runs over 35 sites, including six in London. Before the pandemic the brand also offered dine-in options, but mainly focused on delivery.
As well as opening more restaurants. the group is planning to raise €10m (£8.69m) to develop its technology-centred strategy, which will include drone delivery and automating its kitchens with robotics.
Sweeney said: "Despite an extremely difficult year for the hospitality sector, for Camile 2020 has seen rapid growth. Our suburban, delivery focussed model has proven to be pandemic proof in the last eleven months, not least in terms of revenue and sales.
"This has enabled us to not only push forward with our aggressive expansion plans, but also to prematurely move ahead with our main goal – our tech pivot."
Camile is also pushing ahead with its flexible franchise model, which works with business owners with well-located but underused commercial kitchens in regional towns. The model is designed to help operators pivot to offering Camile's delivery menu and keep trading throughout lockdown.
Camile's first franchised premises have opened in Sligo and there are plans to launch a further five to six outlets in the medium-term.