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Thu 1st Oct 2015 - Steve Richards - we aim to grow three brands to 600 sites
Steve Richards – Bella Italia, Las Iguanas and Café Rouge can grow to 600 sites: Steve Richards has set out ambitious growth plans for Casual Dining Group which he believes can expand its Bella Italia, Las Iguanas and Café Rouge concepts to 600 sites. Speaking at the Fourth annual conference in London today (Thursday, 1 October), the company’s chief executive believes there is scope for 150 Café Rouge and Las Iguanas sites and 300 locations for Bella Italia. Casual Dining Group, which also operates La Tasca, has 27 new sites lined up to open by May 2016 and plans are in place for another 23 in the following 12 months. The majority of them will be on leisure parks. He said: “With Café Rouge it’s about taking it back to its roots. It’s also about trying to make it more comfortable for the customer with a new format for some with a grab-and-go function. It’s going live very soon. We opened one in Dubai that’s been very successful and it will give Café Rouge another leg. Customers thought Bella Italia was a great brand but tired and old. We could see a very, solid stable business and a great management team that needed support. We are refreshing the menus and the supply chain. It’s about bringing it up to date and what the customer wants. We have opened 27 sites in the past year – 24 on retail parks. It’s really aimed at families and shoppers and I’m really excited about that leg of the story. We tracked Las Iguanas for a long time. It had like-for-like growth for 11 years – it’s a phenomenal business. We are going to open 15 in the next 12 months. 88% of staff would recommend working there and it’s the leader of the pack on TripAdvisor.” Richards was delighted with the company’s performance over the past two years but said there was still a lot of work to do. He added: “What we want is great brands, great properties with it all underpinned by great people.”

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