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Leon exits US market after Covid devastates expansion strategy

Leon interior

Healthy fast food chain Leon has aborted its transatlantic expansion plans and closed the four stores it was operating in the US to refocus on Europe.

The chain had high hopes of being able to scale its model in the US when it opened its first store two years ago, but has been “devastated” by Covid-19.

Leon USA president Glenn Edwards confirmed to US trade title Restaurant Dive that its four stores in Washington D.C. and Virginia had all closed after revealing it had only been able to keep one site open in the past 12 months due to the virus.

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Its most recent store opened in August 2020 but had only delivered 25% of the revenue forecast, he said.

“We are now focusing on rebuilding Leon in the UK and Europe, where our journey to make fast food, good food started 17 years ago,” he told the publication.” For now, we have to focus on survival. The US remains our long term number one priority.”

Prior to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Leon had seen 18 months of consecutive like-for-like sales growth and expanding overseas was a key part of its growth strategy.

For 2019, sales increased 10% on a like-for-like basis and 15% overall to £115.3m. UK EBITDA rose from £3.9m to £5.2m year-on-year.

Prior to the pandemic it raised £10m in new equity while a CVA completed in December is designed to enable it to plan for stabilisation and a return to growth, according to its directors.

Leon: ‘Being green still costs more’

 

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Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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