Carluccio’s is preparing for a future without chairman Simon Kossoff after he confirmed plans to step down this month. It’s also all-change on the ground, too, as the chain looks to diversify its business with a revised format that builds heavily on the its heritage but encompasses some new key features, including its first ever open kitchen. FEJ reports.
Since taking over the helm at Carluccio’s last year, CEO Neil Wickers has wasted no time in developing the casual dining chain’s business model to ensure it remains relevant in a rapidly changing and ever-competitive market sector.
The company recently launched its ‘Via’ concept, a grab and go offering that takes the chain deeper into the food-to-go market and then followed that up with its hotel site, at the London Marriott Hotel Regents Park. Now it has taken another step forward by opening the first of a “new generation” of restaurant on its Spitalfields site in the City of London.
The refreshed look reflects the ethos and heritage of the brand but brings the deli and retail area even more to the fore, integrating them seamlessly with the restaurant to reinforce a key USP of Carluccio’s. The interior layout has been altered to create a multifunctional space and houses a more defined grab and go food station and deli and retail area, as well as a more comfortable dining space.
It brings the original premise of the brand to the fore by assimilating the deli with the restaurant”
The result is a convivial dining environment that puts the spotlight on the ingredients and cooking, insists Wickers. “The new generation Spitalfields restaurant celebrates and amplifies all the small things that have made Carluccio’s one of the most loved F&B brands in the UK,” he says. “The premise is to emphasise and enhance those brand signatures that make Carluccio’s stand out from the crowd — its artisan suppliers, fresh dishes made on-site and unique combination of restaurant, food shop and deli.”
A first for the brand is the entirely open plan kitchen, complete with communal kitchen table, allowing diners to watch the chefs in action, creating dishes from scratch and bringing theatre and energy to the dining experience while underlining the brand’s ‘freshly prepared’ message. The deli counter has also been brought to life with chefs using it to prepare antipasti and desserts, while ingredients sourced from Italy are on full display, such as salami aquilla from Abruzzo, guanciale, legs of Parma ham and cheese.
Acknowledging Antonio Carluccio’s involvement in the development of the food and his ‘MOF MOF’ (minimum of fuss, maximum of flavour) culinary philosophy, the walls are adorned with bespoke artwork telling his story and illustrating his zestful approach to life. Shelving displays his cookbooks along with products from the deli. New branding has been created to ensure the link between the restaurant and deli is clearly communicated. The logo has been updated to read ‘Carluccio’s Deli and Dining’ with brighter graphics used throughout the store.
Carluccio himself says: “This latest Carluccio’s really takes me back to the brand’s inception — our very first restaurant was in Neal Street Covent Garden. As a result of numerous requests from diners to buy the ingredients we had sourced from artisan producers in Italy for our dishes, we opened a shop/deli next door. Spitalfields brings the original premise of the brand — putting the spotlight on amazing ingredients — to the fore by assimilating the deli with the restaurant to produce exciting and fresh Italian dishes that deliver on taste and quality.”
To optimise on evening trade, the lighting scheme has been completely redesigned to give a complete change in ambience from bright and fresh in the daytime to relaxed and intimate in the evening. The deli display table doubles up as group dining in the evening, giving an eight extra covers.
In addition, the grab and go area has been elevated with elements from Carluccio’s new quick-service brand extension, ‘Via Carluccio’s’, integrated into the restaurant.
Brand signature features from the Spitalfields location will be introduced across the group’s existing estate over time and incorporated, to a lesser or greater degree, in new openings, dependent on location and size of unit, the company says.
The expansion of its business comes as the chain prepares to wave goodbye to its co-founder, and current chairman, Simon Kossoff, who is stepping down at the end of this month after 17 years with the firm. He has seen the chain grow to more than 100 stores in the UK and internationally since opening the first site in 1999.
Kossoff said it was simply time for him to cut his ties and explore other avenues: “It’s been a fantastic journey and I am desperately proud of the team and what they have achieved. However, after 17 years it really is time to let our CEO Neil Wickers take it forward and for me to focus on other things.”
Given the efforts being made to keep the Carluccio’s brand fresh and expand its sales, it looks like Kossoff is leaving the business in safe hands.
Carluccio’s top line swells by £10m as it serves up growth of 7%
Italian restaurant group Carluccio’s is now worth almost £140m in annual sales, its latest financial results reveal. The company increased its revenues by 7% last year to £137.8m, a £10m improvement on the previous 12 months. For the year ending September 2015, it opened 14 stores in the UK, Ireland and US and continued its expansion in Dubai and Turkey under franchise. At year-end, the group operated from 112 worldwide locations.
The group said that it remains “highly cash generative” with EBITDA before non-cash exceptional expenses rising 7% to £15.3m. Carluccio’s said that current trading has continued ahead of prior year since the start of the new financial year with the opening of four further UK stores before the end of April 2016 and a secure pipeline to deliver a further six openings before the end of September.