Wafflemeister, the Belgian-style waffle specialist, is in talks to expand into America, on top of its continued push in the Middle East and UK.
The group, which has six sites in the UK and 10 in the Middle East, is looking to add an additional 15-20 sites in the UK over the next 18 months, and an additional 20 in the Gulf over the next 24 months.
Alexander Troullier, who initially founded the group in 1999, before selling up and rebuying it after a 10-year stint in finance, told MCA he was franchising the brand to experienced multiple operators of high street brands looking to diversify their portfolio.
Troullier said: “We’re speaking to people in America, which is obviously the crown jewels. The market is very very sophisticated especially in franchising.
“Based on feedback from US customers we think we would do extremely in the US. They love our product, they get our concept, the branding. It’s a friendly place that appeals to our core audience.
“Overall in the casual dining space there’s a ton of competitors out there, with lots of new brands which come and go all the time. But in terms of pedigree in waffles and crepes I don’t think there’s anyone like us.”
As well as London, Wafflemeister is talking to operators in Leeds, Bradford, Aberdeen Oxford, Reading.
Internationally it has two stores in Qatar and a third lined up, three in Bahrain and a fourth on the way, 10 planned for Saudi Arabia, three in the United Arab Emirates, one in Kuala Lumpa, with discussions ongoing in Singapore and Shanghai.
In the UK, Troullier, said the group was signing up predominantly multi-franchise operators who have existing Costa, KFC, Starbucks and Subways, which were becoming saturated in the UK.
He said: “These operators are very experienced F&B guys looking to capture more growth, and Wafflemeister offers a diversifying opportunity for them
“The space we are targeting is causal dinging, with breakfast, lunch, dinner and treats in between, and we’re looking at getting average spend up to £6.50. That’s interesting because places like Starbucks and Costa are looking at a much lower spend, they’re in the coffee market.”
With the surge in popularity of healthier eating options and health campaigns against sugar, Troullier has no concerns over Wafflemeister going against market trends.
“Customer are becoming more and more educated in terms of health and what they put into their bodies, which is great”, he added. “Once they look at it they will see that while our products might be perceived as having more sugar than others, it actually doesn’t.
“We’ve done a lot of comparison analysis, and for example we found that compared with our Liege waffle a Krispy Kreme donut has three more sugar and double the amount of calories based on 100g serving.
“Once people start comparing apples with apples they will realise it’s a smart choice to buy a waffle. Everyone still wants to indulge now and then, they just do it in a more educated way.”
He also pointed to savoury waffles with fresh salmon and kale, vegetarian options with hummus and cous cous and gluten free options served at Wafflemeister.