Pho hires operations director ahead of growth plans

25 August 2010
Pho hires operations director ahead of growth plans

Vietnamese-style casual dining outfit Pho has hired ex-Paul executive Tim Mills to guide it through its next stage of expansion.

The firm, founded by Stephen and Juliette Wall, currently has four outlets, including three in London and one in Brighton. But Stephen Wall indicated that the company was now "at a crossroads" and aimed to reach about 20 sites within five years.

Mills was previously responsible for growing bread and pâtisserie chain Paul to about 20 sites as its head of operations and has also worked as operations manager for Carluccio's and Krispy Kreme. He will now act as operations director for Pho.

"We are approaching a crossroads in Pho's growth. We are assessing the way forward in terms of Pho's growth and how best we are going to achieve that in terms of backers and funding. So we have got some big decisions over the next couple of months," Wall said.

The news of Mills's appointment comes as Pho gears up to open its fifth site, in Wardour Street in London's Soho, on 1 September. The restaurant will have the capacity for 60 diners, with Van Tai Nguyen as head chef and Ewan McDonald as its manager.

Wall indicated that the company's next two or three openings would come in London, but after that it planned to branch further out from the capital.

Pho was founded in June 2005 and specialises in Vietnamese street food, taking its name from the Vietnamese national dish, which is a noodle soup.

Pho's backers

Although it is not currently clear how Pho plans to finance the next stages of its expansion, until now it has enjoyed the investment and backing of Tom and Ed Martin, owners of pub operator ETM Group.

The brothers became regulars at the first Pho in St John Street in Clerkenwell at about the same time that Stephen and Juliette Wall were looking for finance for their second site.

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By Neil Gerrard

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