PAUL is a French bakery café chain that brings the unique taste and style of a traditional French country side bakery to a worldwide audience.
In recent years, a multitude of new nations have been added to their map in both Europe, Asia, the US and the Middle East, as they seek to expand further on the international scene.
In an interview with Siki Mgbadeli, Kevin Hedderick, the chief executive of Famous Brands said that PAUL is now also spreading further into Africa, opening up in its 5th country on the continent.
This is amid speculation that the chain would also expand further into the US, which remains a market largely untapped and with huge growth potential for a brand like PAUL.
Paul Bakery: a Family Business
The PAUL bakery was founded in 1889 and established as a strong national brand among French Bakery Café’s in the seventies, when they started opening up in malls and other innovative new places.
This venerable French brand is a mix of a bakery and a café that serves various breads and lighter dishes, thus bordering a line that might define it as more of a restaurant as well.
They were one of the first bakery chains to incorporate the open bakery, with an open view into the bread making process that in other places was fast becoming more industrial, better hidden and often unhygienic. At PAUL’s bakery shops they put a wood baking oven in full view of the customers instead of hiding it away.
Traditional French Design
The rustic design and traditional architecture of a branch is made to invoke the feeling of an old world charm and with toned down themes, it’s almost as if you’re walking into a little piece of France at the turn of the 19th century. Indeed, except for a small change of livery in the early nineties, to the signature black today, the layout and visual aesthetics of the PAUL stores has not changed.
Keeping it French
As Kevin Hedderwick is quick to explain, it’s important that the branch remain with its core strength and values, which is in large part that it is a traditional French bakery.
Hedderwick goes on to mention that the owners of the brand are fanatical about his company Famous Brands complying 100% with their interpretation of what defines the PAUL brand, not just in terms of design and architecture, but also the look and feel of the place.
The difference in how this venture will fare in Africa then lies in the full Famous Brands model that the company is known for. It is planning on using that model in South Africa, where it has so far worked well for other brands under its umbrella.
PAUL signed a ten year contract
PAUL has shown that they believe in this new business venture with Famous Brands by letting them become PAUL’s South African licensed partner for a ten-year period, which will see a number of branches shoot up in the country in the first few years.
Whether there will be more news about a potential further expansion into the US market and whether such an expansion would follow a similar business model remains a question yet to be answered as 2016 rapidly approaches.