Warrens Bakery is to expand its partnership with Casual Dining Group (CDG), as part of an ambitious target to reach 700 sites over the next five years, with new openings planned at Gatwick and Heathrow T5, MCA has learnt.

Speaking at MCA’s Food to Go Conference earlier this week, Andy Hulbert, head of corporate development – franchise, for Warrens Bakery, said that the company had chosen franchising as the route to get its brand out very quickly, but said they had approached it differently to most.

“We went for sophisticated multi-unit players. We looked for people who already had perhaps owned 30 Costa Coffees, and who had a sophisticated operations team behind them,” explained, one of which is CDG.

“They saw the opportunity to make our brand work within airports and travel hubs. They have just opened in Bristol – our first international airport site, with Gatwick and T5 to open in a couple of months’ time,” he said.

The 85-strong chain is predominately located within Devon and Cornwall, but has been increasing its presence across the UK in the past two years in a bid to create a national brand.

“We have quite ambitious plans to have 700 sites over the next five years – we can’t do that alone, we physically don’t have the capital. Franchising was the easy solution and taking out the mamas and papas approach to franchising it made it easier for us to work with high quality corporate partners,” he said. “We have done 30 sites in 18 months and I can see that rolling out very quickly. Contractually we have nearly 400 sites to open over the next five years.”