Carluccio’s today declared war on Britain’s biggest coffee shop chains with a five-year plan to open 500 branches of its new Caffé concept in high streets, travel hubs and supermarkets creating 7,500 jobs.
Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG), which bought the London-based firm out of administration for just £3.4million last year, said the aggressive roll-out would see it become a “genuine challenger” to the likes of Costa, Starbucks and Caffe Nero competing for a slice of the £10 billion coffee shop market.
The first of the new wave of Caffe Carluccio’s branches opened inside a Sainsbury’s superstore in St Alban’s today: the 45-cover concession serves Italian coffees alongside all-day breakfasts, ciabattas, panetone and biscotti.
It is one of three brands BRG intends to launch in-store with the supermarket this summer.
A hot-and-cold Carluccio’s Counter deli will serve branded pastas and ready-to-eat pizzas, while grab-and-go Restaurant Hubs will see Carluccio’s products offered alongside BRG’s Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK), Slim Chickens, Harry Ramsden’s and Ed’s Easy Diner brands.
BRG took over 30 of Carluccio’s 73 diners in a rescue deal saving 800 of around 1800 jobs at the height of the first lockdown last May. The chain had already been struggling and collapsed into administration just ten days after shops and restaurants were ordered to shut two months earlier.
BRG later took over Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) for a reported £6million as part of a pre-pack administration deal, taking on 600 of its 955 employees .
It plans to roll out the Caffè Carluccio’s concept in travel hubs, city centres and neighbourhood locations across the UK.
BRG boss Satnam Leihal said: “We acquired Carluccio’s in May 2020 and are rebuilding the much-loved brand by evolving the concept whilst adhering to its authentic Italian routes.
“Our customers tell us they want Carluccio’s to be part of their everyday and as such we are delivering a multi-channel and multi-format strategy for the brand.
“With Caffé Carluccio’s offering two blends of the best quality Italian coffee, alongside an accessible all-day menu with sandwiches made fresh daily, we are elevating what a coffee shop in the UK can be.”
The Carluccio’s brand began in 1991 when the late celebrity chef Antonio Carluccio and his wife Priscilla opened a food shop in Neal Street.
Eight years later they opened the first Carluccio’s Caffè in Market Place off Oxford Street.
The chain expanded rapidly, at one point operating more than 100 locations, and entered the junior AIM market before being bought by Dubai-based Landmark Group for £90million in 2010.
Ivy, Annabel’s and Le Caprice owner Richard Caring held a 12% stake and was rumoured to be mulling a takeover, but in 2018 KPMG was called in for advice as it battled with high costs and increased competition.