In The Robin Report, Mark Faithfull outlines the plan of the owners of the famous Paris cafe, Les Deux Magots, to go global. Faithfull writes:
Perhaps if you started business in 1885 and have a formidable literary and artist legacy going back nearly two centuries with the same family running the show — and have created an institution over all those years in an achingly desirable and historic corner in Paris — then taking things slowly comes naturally.
But now the restaurant and grande dame café, Les Deux Magots, has worldwide ambitions and has begun to spread its international wings. The plan is to grow slowly and support its Parisian chic flagship while rolling out a new café concept and retail store to make it a global brand. This new chapter of Les Deux Magots is the vision of the owner, great-granddaughter Catherine Mathivat, and her cousin, Brand General Manager Jacques Vergnaud.
Vergnaud’s plan knows few boundaries. Premium fast-food retail is in his sightline. He is developing a new concept store for takeaway food in mall locations, small-format outlets and in airports. This new concept has its first pilot due to open in Paris on April 15, ahead of the Paris Olympic Games.
Vergnaud joined the company in 2016 after a career in management consultancy and since his arrival, he has focused the family business on first re-establishing the Parisian institution’s roots and second on a careful international expansion, which kicked off in earnest this year. And there’s a lot more to come.
Les Deux Magots actually started all the way back in 1812 as a silk shop. The two Chinese porcelain figurines from which it takes its name appeared in 1884, by which time it had relocated to Saint-Germain-des-Prés and subsequently converted to a café and liqueur bar under the same name.
Purchased in 1914 by Auguste Boulay, the current owner’s great-grandfather, it became a renowned literary and artist hang-out (Ernest Hemingway, Albert Camus, Pablo Picasso, James Joyce, Bertolt Brecht, Julia Child, James Baldwin, Chester Himes, and Richard Wright) synonymous with the city’s rich cultural history and its Latin Quarter home.
From Paris to Global Expansion
After most of its life as a single location, its real estate (Paris and Tokyo) has doubled this year with openings in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and Sao Paulo, Brazil, with plans for the international portfolio to reach as many as 15 restaurants by 2030, including two U.S. cities.
“My first goal was to reposition the café and restaurant and also strengthen the brand for Parisians,” says Vergnaud. “This location belongs to its origins; it’s very historical. So, it’s very important that the brand be balanced between tourists and Parisians. And we think it has been a success because we grew from €8.2 million ($8.7 million) a year to more than €15 million ($16 million).”
The next step in the café’s manifest destiny is to develop the brand as a selective international chain, always with an eye on maintaining its exclusivity. The plan is to create a café brand and presence that can be replicated globally, limited for most markets to just one per country.
Read more here.
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