Benugo has kicked off ambitious plans to grow the presence of its high-street brand with the opening of new outlets in London's Covent Garden and at Luton Airport, while a third operation at Cannon Street in the City of London is scheduled to open at the end of January.
The company, which opened its first store in 1998, aims to open around 10 sites in total over the next 12 months. The locations of the new ventures are the key focus of Benugo's expansion plans, according to managing director Guy Kellner.
"The idea is we have picked some strategic locations in London that we want to have presence in, such as Covent Garden, Victoria station and Soho. So somewhere in the neighbourhood of 10 new outlets for 2013 is a good estimate," he said.
"The next location that we are very close to signing is in Hanover Square, and after that, sites in Victoria, Wigmore Street and plenty of other areas. They are all places in which we want to have presence. It's not based on what is available but on where we want to be."
Kellner said that renewed emphasis on the company's core high-street brand reflects feelings he shares with founder Ben Warner that it is "what brings the integrity to other parts of the business".
Benugo, part of independent contract catering group WSH, also runs an event production and catering arm called Clerkenwell Green and operates in-house in business and industry sites, including Nomura and RBS; stand-alone restaurants, such as Bishopsgate Kitchen in Shoreditch and the Cellarium Café and Terrace at Westminster Abbey; and concessions at public spaces, including the Ashmolean in Oxford and National Museums Scotland.
"We first opened in Clerkenwell, and that's what I believe attracted these museums and companies to us," he said. "In the second five to 10 years of Benugo we were more focused on growing the museums and public spaces business, because that's what was at hand and also because the high street wasn't making enough money.
"In the last three years we have focused on improving the profitability, offer and seasonality of our high-street operations, and it is performing very well."
Benugo's branded high-street business enables the company to deliver a better service in its other operations, added Kellner.
"When we opened the new shop in Long Acre, that night we had 180 tweets on what customers liked and didn't like. You don't hear that in a museum or Deutsche Bank, but you do hear it on the street."
THE NEW OPENINGS
â- Airside, Luton Airport, December 2012
â- Cannon Street, London, January 2013
By Janie Manzoori-Stamford
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