U.K. Restaurant Brands Hit the Reset Button

Several U.K. chains are revamping their image to please current customers and appeal to a broader audience by refurbishing restaurants, updating brands and rolling out new prototypes. Trendier décor and an emphasis on customer needs are the hallmarks of these updates, all in the effort to create a more contemporary brand.

Here are a half-dozen of note:

  • KFC U.K. plans to open 150 locations in the U.K. and Ireland over the next five years. The chain will invest £21 million this year to open 32 new branches; it then plans to add about 30 new stores a year for at least another five years. In addition to its expansion investment, KFC is set to spend another £40 million this year on refurbishment of 220 branches.
  • TGI Fridays U.K. unveiled Fast Track, a new transportation hub prototype set to open at Manchester’s Piccadilly Station in June. The prototype is part of the company’s goal to double the number of units in the U.K. to 120 by 2020, with around eight openings a year. The new Fridays will offer a restaurant environment tailored to meet the needs of busy travelers, with power outlets, Wi‐Fi and individual seating. All menu items have been designed to be served within 10 minutes of ordering. If successful, the design will be used to further expansion.
  • Revolution Vodka Bars will rebrand as Revolution Cocktails and Kitchen to appeal to a larger customer base. Last year, the company began a £10 million redevelopment program, which included an update of its menus away from the sole use of vodka to focus more on craft cocktails that use a variety of liquors.
  • La Tasca launched the Bar de Sangria concept at 35 of its locations after a successful trial in Leeds. The bar concept features a selection of 15 different sangrias from the Favoritos and Clasico menus. The sangria bars will operate alongside the chain’s recently launched Bodegas Wine Bar & Cava Bars.
  • Cafe Rouge launched a revamped express prototype at Victoria Place shopping plaza in London. The unit highlights its on-the-go offerings, which include pastries and baguettes. The chain also launched an on-site rotisserie to offer chicken for dine-in and carryout, a first for the brand. Other additions include a French deli-style area and a communal table.
  • Greggs partnered with Philip Watts Design to redesign all 1,700 stores in the U.K. The design firm has already completed 200 store revamps and plans to complete 250 more this year. The new store design includes a more up-to-date look with new seating, localized features, vintage fittings and lighting. A delivery bike has been hung in some revamped stores as homage to the company’s origins.

Brand and design updates are necessary as markets and customers evolve. Millennials, seeking a more meaningful dining experience, are driving many of these changes. However, full revamps are not always necessary. Simple menu updates, new exterior signage or an updated colour scheme can often make a restaurant feel refreshed.


Darren Tristano

Darren Tristano is President of Technomic Inc. Since 1993, he has led the development of Technomic’s Information Services division and directed multiple aspects of the firm’s operations.

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