The Marcq-en-Barœul-based company expects half of its planned 100 stores to be franchise operated, but says the slow return of workers to offices, its key customer base, has impeded sales in 2022
Paul's trading remains ‘challenging’ despite average sales per customer increasing this year compared to last | Photo credit: Paul
Paul is seeking to reach 100 bakery-café stores in the UK, half of which it expects to be franchised.
Paul, which made its UK debut in 2000 and currently operates 36 stores, opened its first franchise location in October 2022, converting a company-owned outlet in Oxford into a licenced site.
“Our initial target is to grow to 100 stores across the UK, with at least 50% of these being franchise stores outside London. We are in discussions with other interested individuals and groups and look forward to welcoming new franchise partners into the Paul family over the coming 12-24 months,” said Mark Hilton, CEO, Paul.
Hilton said that trading remains ‘challenging’ despite average sales per customer increasing this year compared to last. He said revenues are slowly nearing pre-pandemic levels but are likely to fall short this year as office workers, who are ‘the main driver of our city locations’, have still not returned to the office working patterns seen in 2019.
“While we see optimism from a top line perspective, the challenge remains throughout the rest of the P&L, but the learnings we’ve gained through Covid-19 mean we are much more efficient than pre-Covid, which will help mitigate some of the cost pressures,” Hilton added.
Founded in 1899, Paul is owned by French business company Groupe Holder. The bakery-café chain more than 700 stores across 40 countries globally.