Hotcha, the Chinese takeaway operator, is to open its first site in London this year as part of five further openings for 2017, MCA has learnt.
The group, which opened its 13th store – in Bournemouth’s Wimborne Road - at the end of last month, has secured a site in Fulham for an opening in the second half of this year. It will also open in Cardiff, Gloucester, Cheltenham and Leicester in 2017.
Chief executive and co-founder James Liang told MCA that next year the group would aim to open a site per month. He said he is also considering international expansion for the group.
The group secured £7.5m investment last year, most of which went into the opening of a new central kitchen facility in Bristol, which will allow it to grow to 100 stores in the UK. Liang said there had also been a great focus in the last six months on strengthening the operations teams to support further growth. He said the group had funds for its short-term ambitions but early next year would probably look for further investment.
He said: “We know where we want to be and we have a good pipeline for this year and into 2018. Bournemouth is a perfect example of the kind of place we are looking at – it’s a good-sized university town with the right demographics for us.”
On the evolution of the Hotcha offer, Liang said: “We know we still have a challenge to get past people’s perceptions of Chinese takeaways, which still has this reputation of being an unhealthy treat. Customer demand for healthy food is only growing so we have done more work on including healthy options.”
On future growth, he said: “Next year should see us settle into a rhythm of opening a site a month and then we will go from there.
“International expansion is definitely of interest. You look at places like America and mainland Europe and there is certainly a demand for this kind of service. But for now the focus is on building on our success in the UK.”
He said trading so far this year had been good with no sign of consumer confidence dipping. He said the biggest challenge going forward continued to be recruiting the right staff. He said the group was also working hard to keep it digital offer competitive.