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Pizza Populist Franco Manca Looks to Hoover Up Central London Chain Sites

The pizza chain that has outlasted overexpanded restaurants wants to... Expand

Pizza at Franco Manca, soon to open a new london restaurant Justin De Souza

More! Small! Scale! Artisan! Expansion! Of! Restaurants!

David Page, who runs both Franco Manca and The Real Greek, wants the pizza chain to expand into central London restaurants left vacant by its over-expanded chain competitors. Page, who is the former chief executive of pizza and private equity debt slinger Pizza Express, told the Mail on Sunday that landlords cognisant of the need to lower rents would afford the chain opportunities it didn’t have before: “We are looking at all of them: the Byron Burgers, Carluccio’s, Prezzo, Le Pain Quotidien. There are so many sites available.” In the same interview, he said that Fulham Shore, the parent company of the two chains, just raised £18 million to fund further expansion, by increasing bank debt to £25.8 million and selling shares.

Page also took a swipe at private equity restaurant investors: “These guys see something is successful so they invest a few hundred million quid in restaurants and they don’t really know what they own ... They then throw money at it to expand, and then they start to interfere — and they don’t really know what they are talking about.”

Franco Manca, which has 51 restaurants in the U.K., is perhaps well-placed to make such a move because the majority of its estate is outside central London, with neighbourhoods in the city desirable for operators after weathering the economic effects of the pandemic better than an area which remains a “ghost town.”

While Page’s benign views on private equity suggest that’s not an avenue he wishes to go down, and lower rents make expansion more attractive, the risk that Franco Manca will fall to the same fate as the chains Page paints as bloated will remain. It’s already made the journey from cultishly swooned over independent — natural wine! English “mozzarella”! In 2008! — to big chain shadow-boxer, having maintained the point-of-difference of actually quite good pizza relative to the competition of its size.

And in other news...

Sunday

169 Hemingford Road, , England N1 1 020 7607 3868

CUB

153 Hoxton Street, , England N1 6PJ 020 3693 3202 Visit Website

London

, , England Visit Website

Franco Manca

20 The Broadway, , England SW19 1RE 020 8947 4368 Visit Website

Pizza Express

399 Barking Road, , England E6 2JT

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