French artisan bakery and patisserie PAUL is gaining quite an appetite for expansion, and what’s more it is finally looking outside its London stronghold in the search for market growth. Famed for its signature range of breads and wide selection of pâtisserie, viennoiserie, gourmet salads and sandwiches, the chain has just opened its 34th shop, in Birmingham. The 190 square metre site in the Grand Central shopping centre is the group’s third regional opening outside of the capital in the past 12 months, coming hot on the heels of launches in Oxford and Newbury.
That’s not to say the chain has taken its eye off the ball in London — far from it in fact, as the unveiling of its second full-service London restaurant in Tower 42, the iconic City skyscraper, goes to show. Following the opening of the first Le Restaurant de PAUL in Covent Garden — part of a new brand extension last autumn — the Tower 42 site also houses a bakery and destination wine bar, and will host monthly bread-making masterclasses. At 4,144 square feet, the 93-cover restaurant ranks as PAUL’s biggest property yet, with subtle references to the company’s 125-year history, including the use of materials such as dark grey stone tiling seen in one of the first PAUL shops in 1920s France, carefully weaved into the design.
This emerging twin strategy of restaurants and retail bakeries is marshalled by UK chief executive Jean-Michel Orieux, who recognises the importance of upholding brand values, as he noted at the opening of the Tower 42 site. “PAUL has a really strong brand identity based on core family principles that symbolise authentic French tradition,” he stated. With more sites in the pipeline, Jean-Michel will be confident that PAUL’s operations department is up for the challenge after the appointment of the experienced Gary Cowles as operations director this year. Bringing an outstanding track record in the delivery of substantial capital plans and new openings to the table, Gary will be a massive asset to the company as it expands. Furthermore, previous roles with Stonegate Pub Company and Mitchells & Butlers make him well-qualified to navigate the hurdles that come with brand development and store growth.
“PAUL has a really strong brand identity based on core family principles that symbolise authentic French tradition”