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Retailer Spotlight - Leon reimagines roadside eating with Roadchef


Posted At: 21 August 2017 10:25 AM
Related Categories: Future of Retailing, Retailers


As growth in the UK’s F&B market starts to slow, some are asking whether the bubble has - or is about to - burst. With operators like Ed’s Easy Diner and Handmade Burger Co going into administration, players are approaching the market with far more caution.

At the same time, we’re seeing innovative partnerships as the industry looks to create new ways to grow. Leon’s deal will Roadchef is one such example, with the upmarket, healthy fast food chain announcing plans to open outlets along UK motorways this summer. More are in the pipeline over the next five years.

Tapping into the motorway network

Roadchef, which operates 30 service area sites across the UK, with around 52m motorists visiting every year, has chosen its Norton Canes on the M6 and Strensham South in the M5 locations as the first to house Leon restaurants. Customers will be able to purchase Leon’s popular dishes such as the Moroccan Meatball Hotbox, Fish Finger Wrap and the Original Super Salad. The deal will see nearly 60 jobs created at both service stations.

Leon and Roadchef’s partnership follows a similar venture by Pizza Express and one of Roadchef’s main competitors, Welcome Break. It is part of Roadchef’s drive to offer UK motorists a wider choice and to reflect the diversity of the high street.

Simon Turl, CEO of Roadchef said: “We scoured the market for a brand that would complement our existing offering and Leon, with its impressive naturally fast food credentials, stood out. We are thrilled that Leon has chosen Roadchef as the partner to introduce its brand to the motorway network, our two companies share a people focused culture and we are confident that our customers will be impressed with what Leon has to offer.”

Taking on the greasy spoon?

From Leon’s perspective, the agreement supports its aims to provide a nutritious alternative to traditional fast food chains, using healthy ingredients that are quick and easy to prepare.

Leon managing director John Upton explained: “We’re thrilled to be working with Roadchef and taking Leon onto the motorways of Britain. At Leon we want to help everyone eat well and live well. We have always said we want Leon to be where it was most needed – either on the high street or easy to find when you’re out and about. This new partnership with Roadchef will help us provide fun, fast, fresh Leon food to the millions of people who use our motorways every day.”

Leon’s international growth strategy

Leon was founded by John Vincent, Henry Dimbleby, and chef Allegra McEvedy in 2004. The group currently operates 47 sites in the UK and earlier this year, secured £25m in private equity to power its international growth. Leon has already opened two stores in the Netherlands with plans to expand to the US next. Its 2015 revenues rose by almost 50% £36.9m. Its 2016 results will be posted next month and the FSP team will share insights on these.



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