Neds Noodle Bar is looking to restart its franchise drive, with hopes for 10-15 sites over the next few years, CEO James Breslaw told MCA.

The business, which operates five sites in London and the south of England, has previously talked about hopes to reach 100 franchise sites over five years.

Having dipped its toe in the water with franchising twice previously, Breslaw said it was now working with Hero Brands - parent company of German Doner Kebab, had its manual ready to go and was in the process of putting together a marketing campaign.

He said the business would consider backing current employees who wanted to open a franchise site, but would ideally be interested in finding say potential muli-site operators, and could extend the company other areas of the UK, such as Scotland and the South West. “I don’t think it’s in Neds Noodle Bar’s interest to have 200 units and loads of franchisees,” he said.

Neds currently operated one franchise location, in Southampton’s Margate shopping centre and that franchisee is looking to open another site in the area, he said.

For its company-owned openings, Breslaw said the business was looking closer to the M25, in places such as Cambridge or Reading, which are close to the capital and attract high footfall to their high streets.

The business is just about to open its sixth site, in Milton Keynes, in the centre:mk shopping centre. The 65-cover restaurant at 21 Eagle Walk, will initially open for delivery before opening for indoor dining next month. Breslaw said the previous store had only been open for four months before closing so the capex was much lower than usual.

He added that he was looking to raise up to £500k, in order to fund some of the business’s future expansion, as part of his plan to sell part of the business, and said he’d already had interest from several parties who have existing investments in the hospitality sector. “We feel like it’s the perfect opportunity to move the business on,” he added.

Neds has been operating delivery and takeaway from its sites throughout the pandemic, and while sales were initially very strong – particularly in the first lockdown last year, when a lot of the bigger brands were closed – Breslaw said January and February were very quiet.

“Outside London traded very well, but inside London was a bit more difficult, especially in the third lockdown, but all in all we’ve been quite fortunate,” he said. That said he does believe “the delivery market is saturated” – not just with restaurants but now with convenience stores too.

Breslaw said that in contrast to the vast number of dark kitchens that have opened up during the pandemic, he was looking to open a ‘light kitchen’, whereby they would secure a cheap high street store in a secondary location. The store would not be open to the public but there would be a window whereby they could order and pick up food from the store front.