HOP founder Paul Hopper is considering a number of different formats for his Vietnamese concept as he gears up to aggressively expand, MCA has learnt.
The former City analyst, who currently has two grab and go sites in the Square Mile, is looking at a larger footprint casual dining café-restaurant, a kiosk for shopping centres and transport hubs, and a dark kitchen Roobox style offer in residential areas.
Hopper said the brand was strong enough to be evolved into different models, and that flexibility over site types and locations gave the business an advantage in a highly competitive marketplace facing looming cost pressure.
Meanwhile Hopper plans to continue expanding his grab and go format, and suggested he could open 10 sites in The City and as many as 30 or 40 in London.
He plans to trial the different formats simultaneously, and will look to secure a third round of fundraising, though a mixture of existing private investors, who include Casual Dining Group chairman Martin Robinson, and new industry investors who can offer expertise as well as cash.
Hopper is looking at a potential site for the cafe model in Paddington, which he said would retain the quick counter service, but would allow costumers to linger longer, in the mould of a Wagamama or Nando’s, with potential for an evening service. This model would be suited to regional expansion to cities like Bristol and Manchester, he said.
He is also in talks with a delivery company, which is understood to be a rival of Deliveroo, about a potential ‘dark kitchen’ serving residential areas, with HOP grab and go sites being considered for use as delivery-only kitchens in the evening.
Hopper said: “I’m really keen to show we can operate in different formats in different locations, not just in The City.
“The brand is strong enough in terms of look and feel that it can translate into different settings when the time is right.”
Hopper is also looking to evolve his breakfast offer at the grab and go sites, with 90% of the c600-650 daily customers at each of the two stores coming during a two hours lunchtime rush.
He is considering poached egg based pots with a Vietnamese twist, as well as replacing the crusty French baguettes of the bánh mì breakfast options with softer muffins or brioche, following customers feedback.
HOP is now serving expresso-based coffee from Taylor St Baristas to complement its traditional Vietnamese filter coffee options.