Leon admits mistakes are inevitable as it takes first crack at US


British healthy fast food chain Leon admits it’s inevitable that it will “make lots of mistakes” in its bid to crack the US market.

Founder and chief executive John Vincent is over in the States at the moment as the chain gears up for the launch of its first store in Washington DC. It will open for business at the end of August of early September.

Leon plans to put down markers in the US by opening five stores in a short space of time, with three of those based in Washington. If successful, it intends to pursue a faster expansion.

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Mr Vincent acknowledged the challenge that the brand faces in trying to establish itself in one of the world’s most established and crowded fast food markets.

“I think we’re going to make lots of mistakes. Just because we speak the same language doesn’t mean we have the same dynamic,” he told the Evening Standard.

He said the company has “tonnes” of customers that have used Leon at Heathrow Terminal 2 and asked it to come to the US.

“If we’re going to be the winner in naturally fast food or good fast food we really do have to be in the States. Fast food is an international business. The players like McDonald’s, KFC and Burger King have an international footprint and so should we.”

While the very concept of fast food originated in the US, Mr Vincent insists there is nobody there doing what Leon does, telling the paper: “We are trying to help Americans fall back in love with fast food but with all our principles, which is to taste great, to be surprisingly good to you, kind to the planet and affordable.”

Other well-known chains in the UK, such as Pret A Manger, Wagamama and YO! Sushi are also currently looking to build a presence in the US at the moment.

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Andrew Seymour

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