| Italy

SSP Group to enter the Italian market in 2023 with LEON launch

The travel concession operator will enter Italy, its 37th market globally, in October 2023 with a LEON store at Rome’s Termini Station

LEON's Schiphol Plaza store at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol | Photo credit: LEON


SSP Group has announced it will open LEON’s first outlet in Italy as part of its upcoming debut in the country. 

UK-based coffee and food-to-go chain LEON will join Japanese sushi chain YO!, grab-and-go brand EXKi and Italian restaurant chain Granaio at Rome’s Termini railway station. The licensed store will mark SSP’s first foray into the Italian market when opened in October 2023. 

“We’re delighted to announce our entry into the Italian market and are certain that LEON, YO!, Granaio and EXKi will prove highly popular with travelers at Rome Termini Station. At SSP, we have a strong track record in bringing great brands to travel locations and making them relevant to the local market. We’re certain this is the start of a very fruitful business venture as we take our first steps in this important European market,” said Jeremy Fennell, CEO of Continental Europe & Nordics at SSP. 

Italy will be SSP Group’s 37th market globally and its 16th across Continental Europe. 

In May 2023, the UK-based travel food and beverage operator reported revenues in its Continental Europe division reached 116% of 2019 levels. SSP Group’s total revenues reached £1.3bn ($1.6bn) in the six months ended 31 March 2023, 64% higher than the same period last year and 104% of pre-pandemic levels. 

LEON, which has approximately 80 stores across the UK and four in the Netherlands, will be the latest food and beverage brand to launch in Italy as international chains seek new opportunities in the market. 

Pret A Manger opened its first store in Italy in May 2023 at Milan Malpensa airport after signing a franchise agreement with Modena-based Chef Express. The UK-based coffee and food-to-go chain expects to open 40 outlets across Italy over the coming years.  

Meanwhile Starbucks is seeking to reach 37 stores across the country by the end of 2023 following new outlets in Rome and Verona. 

The total branded Italian coffee shop market comprises more than 1,160 outlets. World Coffee Portal forecasts the market will exceed 1,260 stores by 2028. 

LEON’s debut in Italy follows difficult trading for the brand internationally. The premium food-to-go and coffee chain exited the US and Scandinavian markets in 2021 and closed its three stores in Ireland in July 2022. 

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