As Tortilla, the burrito and taco brand, opens its thirtieth store in the UK, MCA talks to managing director Richard Morris about further expansion plans, the evolution of the brand, volatile trading, future funding and the group’s initial international foray in the Middle East. The company opened its thirtieth site in London’s Russell Square yesterday, with openings in Intu Eldon Square, Newcastle on 7 November and Cribbs Causeway, Bristol late November set to follow, which will see the company recruit around 60 new staff from the surrounding areas.
Morris said that trading had been “volatile over the last few months”. He told MCA: “It has settled down since the Summer but we envisage the environment remaining the same over the coming months. Uncertainty around the economy generally means mixed results. Hard to forecast.”
In terms of the group’s pipeline, he said: “We have some good sites close to agreement. We will maintain our plan of opening new restaurants but will certainly remain cautious around the financials of any new locations.”
Morris said that the group’s first site Dubai with its franchise partner Eathos had enjoyed a “very good start” He said: “It has been well received and two more sites will open this year in Dubai Leisure Parks and Ryadh SA.” In terms of being approached to take the brand to other territories internationally, Morris said that the company had been approached but that was “not on our radar to pursue”.
Can we expect the company to review its options over the next 12-18 months? Morris said: “Maybe but we are in no hurry. The market has changed and now is the time to hunker down and get close to the teams in the restaurants and get ready for Christmas and 2017.”
On the group’s 30th site and continued evolution, Morris said: “We started this business to provide a ‘relaxed burrito bar’ for local residents, students and passers-by in Islington. We’ve worked hard to maintain our values across all 30 locations. Our environments are designed to be individually unique and fun and we continue to believe that there is little in life better than a cold beer and a juicy burrito! It’s a major achievement to be opening the doors of our 30th store in the city where we first began, and we’re excited to continue opening restaurants all over the UK.