Patisserie Valerie is to refocus its business on being “less of a restaurant and more of a patisserie”, managing director Paolo Peretti has told MCA.

He said the senior team were keen to get back to the core strengths of the brand. “It has been trying to be all things to all people, with things like lasagne on the menu, but now we are really focused on it being a destination for an ‘occasion’ visit or for people to have an indulgent treat,” he explained.

As part of this it has developed a new menu which to be trialled for a period of three weeks, from the beginning of May, in 14 sites, with a view to rolling it out to all sites in early June.

It sees a reduction in total menu items of around 25% and has been simplified in terms of format and content, said Peretti. It gives more prominence to cakes, patisseries and snacks and will also feature more vegetarian and vegan options.

Peretti explained that the simplified menu has also been designed to be easier to deliver in store which should speed service up and make them more efficient. “The previous menu was very large and the stores and kitchens aren’t particularly big so it was difficult to deliver, so we are trying to make it easier for our teams to deliver and deliver it well,” he explained.  

Patisserie Valerie had previously been trialling earlier opening hours at 87 of its stores, but Peretti said that since the Causeway Capital acquisition the decision has been made to move away from this and back to its core trading times of late breakfast/brunch and the afternoon. Meanwhile, some of its more brasserie style sites have had their opening hours curtailed, he said.

“We have been pulling back a little bit on our opening hours; a lot of our stores aren’t opening quite as early as previously,” he explained. “The new menu will also have some new and interesting breakfast items which are focused more on someone who is coming back a bit later for breakfast or brunch, wants to sit down and have a cooked meal or an indulgent treat and has time on their hands.”

He said the business was not looking to capture the commuter traffic of someone coming in to grab a coffee, with the exception of its stores located by railway stations, but people who have time to enjoy the experience.

In addition, Peretti said the senior team was currently working on the details of a capex programme for some of the older sites, which would see new equipment installed and a refreshed look.

“We are not planning a revolution. We have got a good idea of who our customer is – we need to be contemporary but at the same time we are a fairly traditional patisserie and we want to keep that feel,” he said.

Peretti said the business had been trading above the expectations that Causeway Capital has anticipated and had just had a successful Easter trading period. “We have also turned off a lot of the promotions that were happening previously,” he added.