Kaspa’s Desserts is targeting flagship locations in central London, and is on track to meet its openings target of 10-15 stores this year, managing director Francesco Arcadio tells MCA.

The dessert café chain currently operates more than 100 stores across the country and is also expanding its coffee offer this autumn, with the aim of branching out into different day part.

It is primarily reliant on evening trade, but is looking to extend the offer further and cater to shorter dwell times.

“We’re looking into an opportunity to open a flagship store in a competitive market [in central London] that will help us with exposure,” Arcadio says. “We’re also putting more effort into our coffee offer and quality.”

Despite traditionally catering to prolonged dwell times, Kaspa’s has recently begun experimenting with smaller format takeaway-oriented stores, which have worked well for the brand in some locations, according to Arcadio.

It has “no preferences” when it comes to expansion, with the business performing well across its estate.

“We’ll continue to open more in the Southeast,” Arcadio continues. “We’re doing well in the West, from Somerset to Wales.

“There are also opportunities in the North – we have a good presence there but could do better.”

The business has opened five outposts this year and is on track to meet its openings target. While inflationary pressures have slowed down its growth plans, new openings have been successful.

It has also made its international debut in Pakistan and is looking to launch in Morocco in the coming months.

“Our presence is most viable in high streets but destination retail parks are also a good opportunity for us,” Arcadio says. “So far shopping centres have not been as much of an opportunity for us – maybe because they’re mostly open during the day whereas we do most of our trade in the evening.

“Most of our opportunity is in towns where the dessert offer isn’t overexploited yet. But eventually we’ll have to tackle our presence in central London.”

Kaspa’s has also honed in on menu innovation, with a new summer menu to be launched soon with the addition of items such as a dragonfruit sorbet and toffee popcorn gelato. It is also gearing up to add bubble tea to its offer.

“The sales has been consistent, weighed strongly towards waffles, crepes, and gelato,” Arcadio explains. “We’ve still invested in menu development to provide differentiation but remain within the luxurious dessert category.”

With delivery sales holding up well despite the easing of Covid restrictions, offering promos and improved descriptions on delivery platforms has also helped the business.

“We’re enjoying healthier like-for-like growth since January this year…we’ve also grown our marketing team and doubled our ops team to offer more support to the franchisee.”

Kaspa’s has also relooked at its model to invest in franchisee profitability, which has been strained due to rising costs.

It will launch an emergency support package for franchisees in the coming months, according to Arcadio.

“We see this is an investment into the future viability of our franchisees.”

The business has also relooked at its supply chain and negotiated deals, with soaring milk, flour, and sugar costs placing pressure on margins.

“We’ve found the synergy with our suppliers to convince them to bite the bullet with us and bring costs down, by offering them extended contracts.”

While footfall has slowed over the cost of living crisis, spend per head has continued to grow consistently over the past few years, not only due to price rises.

“Our offering is not an essential, but we’ve noticed it’s seen as a well-deserved treat.”