Next year marks the 30th anniversary of TGI Fridays’ first UK site in Birmingham and it could be argued that there has never been a more exciting period in the popular American-themed restaurant chain’s history. Sales are up, the chain now employs 5,000 staff and its store count of 67 is rising by the month. The UK franchise is owned by Electra Partners, which invested £99m of equity in the deal last year, and continues to be led by highly-respected chief executive Karen Forrester, who revealed in a newspaper interview this year that by 2020 TGI aims to double the size of the business that Electra bought.
New sites in places such as Leicester and Milton Keynes have sprung up this year and more are on their way, including a further eight in 2016. “In the past three years we have opened more UK restaurants than at any time in TGI Fridays’ history,” said Forrester in the same interview.
All these openings would not be possible without a highly motivated engine room consisting of purchasing, procurement and supply chain experts who each play an important part in shaping the kitchen, from spec to build. Among those is David Julful, shark team kitchen leader — ‘shark team’ being the name of the coaching team responsible for new store openings. Whether it’s roll-outs, training or organising the set-up, David is credited with being an individual who gets the job done and ensures the smooth launch of new sites.
There has certainly been plenty to keep David and his colleagues occupied this year, with several noteworthy developments on the store front. This includes the launch of its most environmentally-friendly restaurant to date in Milton Keynes, featuring solar PV panels on the roof that generate part of the electrical supply required for the building, and an open plan ‘shotgun kitchen’. Also worth noting is the new site that TGI has taken on at The Oracle shopping centre in Reading. At 3,375 square foot, the site is the smallest in TGI’s portfolio and could pave the way for it to launch other full-service restaurants in a slimline format in future.
“In the past three years we have opened more UK restaurants than at any time in TGI Fridays’ history”