Pizza and craft been format Zerodegrees is hatching plans for satellite venues but is holding off until the UK’s future within or without Europe becomes clear.
The new satellite branches would range from 3,000-5,000 sq ft compared with the existing larger 8,000-13,000 sq ft sites, co-founder Nick Desai told MCA.
The business had been looking to open full-size sites in Wandsworth, Battersea and Canary Wharf, in the capital, and was offered sites in Battersea last week but Desai said Brexit had put “a spanner in the works.
“Once we know the parameters of Brexit we can decide how to proceed with the expansion”, Desai said.
Zerodegrees has four big sites – each comprising restaurants that include a microbrewery and wood-fired pizza oven.
Desai said he had been offered Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group sites “for many months” with rent-free periods but they were not suitable.
They were offered on long leases whereas Zerodegrees preferred freeholds, he said, albeit two of its four sites, Blackheath and Reading were 25-plus-year long leaseholds.
Zerodegrees’ breweries have about 50% extra capacity potentially available by adding a few extra tanks into the sites which would make smaller satellites feasible in surrounding suburbs.
“If we have small satellites we can tank our beers by trucks to another satellite site. That’s the aim as soon as we know about Brexit. We have the core infrastructure in place,” said Desai.
“He wants satellites around Reading and Bristol. He also wants “at some point” to open a production brewery and slowly start developing and growing “up North in key areas”.
Funding would be through bank loans. “First we would start with satellite sites and have three to four satellite restaurants and bars around each one of our existing brewery locations.
“The alternative is to maybe look at new key brewery locations - maybe look, at say, three additional breweries possibly or we would look to streamline it into one production brewery and just open satellite sites only.
“So we would have one production brewery located between say Reading and London whereby all beers are then produced there and then tanked to all satellite locations at some point so we can expand quicker that way…”.
The business imports “at least” half of its ingredients but Desai said it had managed to control costs because of two-year forward-purchasing contracts.
Turnover in the year to the end of March climbed 7% and pre-tax profit about 3%.