The Azzurri Group will convert the first Pod store to Coco di Mama in around September, before switching three or four more before Christmas, CEO Steve Holmes has told MCA.
Speaking two weeks after the Azzurri Group acquired parts of 13 Pod sites in a pre-pack administration, Holmes is open-minded about the future for the brand, which he said had a strong legacy, awareness and loyal client base, with potential for a couple of stores to remain as Pod.
The Zizzi and ASK Italian operator is studying Pod’s two delivery hubs, in Holborn and the City, which operate as sperate businesses to the stores, and supply B2B corporate catering – a revenue stream Holmes is interested in developing under the Pod and/or Coco do Mama brands.
The acquisition gives Azzurri a greater foothold in London’s food-to-go space, which Holmes said the focus was on maintaining a “fresh, relevant, quality and value-led proposition.”
Holmes told MCA “The first conversion will be at the back end of summer, at around September time. Then we’ll probably do three or four before Christmas. After that we’ll pause, see how it goes, and if it goes well, accelerate. If pod continues to do well, we’ll see what happens.”
As part of the acquisition, Alex Young, who has led Pod for the last 18 months, has stayed on as managing director, alongside the rest of the senior team.
Holmes continued: “Pod have some excellent sites in some really good locations, and a number we will convert will to Coco di Mama as we expand our footprint of that business.
“A couple we may not want to convert. We will assess whether the Pod business and the brand has a future. We’re open minded about whether there is or isn’t. They have settled well into Azzurri – they have great people, great teams.
“Food to go is an exciting space in London and super competitive. Having a fresh, relevant, quality-led, value-led proposition is still key – much like in restaurants.”
On Pod’s delivery hub business, Holmes said there was opportunity for Azzurri to go beyond its Deliveroo-centric delivery revenue stream.
“We see it as a different income channel,” he said. “It’s a very interesting business model which can sit alongside the Deliveroo model. Definitely looking to develop and expand that side – whether as Pod or Coco or both.”