Issue 4, 2019. August-September

   

COMING SOON: ENTRÉE SET TO EXPAND TO LONDON

Georgia's popular chain of French café/bakeries is preparing to open a café in London this year. Investor.ge spoke with Entrée's co-owner Jean Michel Charles about the decision to open a branch in the UK and how Georgian brands can make the leap to the international market.

Entrée Founder Eugene Pichkhaia and Co-founder founder Jean Michel Charles


Entrée, Tbilisi's first French café/bakeries chain, is poised to break into the European market with its first branch in London this year.

This will not be Entrée's first foray abroad: the chain already has two café/bakeries in Baku, and plans to open four more.

But this will be its first time expanding outside of the Caucasus.

Co-founder Jean Michel Charles said the team has been working on the move for over a year.

"This is a fantastic challenge. In fact, going to London, we were thinking a lot what to do and how to bring a French bakery to Europe-it doesn't have to be London, it could be Berlin or Vienna or wherever...What will be the difference between our French bakery, created in Georgia, and other French bakeries in the city?" he told Investor.ge.

"It will be a French bakery but half of the assortment will be Georgian products. So compared to all the other French bakeries, we also have Georgian products. We have very tasty products, not only khachapuri but also the salads and the hot dishes."

Charles noted that while there are lots of bakeries and cafes in London, most of the food available is the same: semi-prepared or frozen products.

But Entrée will be providing something fresh and different.

"We are working from raw, fresh materials - no additives," Charles said.

The Entrée team is also confident that the Georgian element will help their café stand out: Georgian restaurants have started to gain traction in London, but they offer only sit-in dining.

Entrée will provide the same fast service it offers in Tbilisi and Baku, with a focus on Georgian dishes that can be eaten on the go, as well as its well-known French delicacies.

The Entrée chain, which opened in Tbilisi in December 2008, has been an international brand for five years. The team opened the first Entrée abroad in 2014, in Baku. Charles said there are two Entrees in the Azerbaijani capital now, with four more in the pipeline.

He said there is potential for more Georgian brands to expand internationally. The most important thing is to prepare well before making the move.

It is also important to know the customers' tastes. Charles noted that Azerbaijanis prefer sweets to savory, so the Entrées in Baku offer more sweets than those in Georgia. The difference for London will be the accent on quality Georgian dishes made to go.

"We want to bring this food to London, with the image of a French bakery but with Georgian [dishes on the menu]. This will be the difference," he said.