“Dark kitchen”, delivery, Instagram… In franchises too, restaurants are reinventing themselves

An article from the Special Edition of L’Express special Franchise on newsstands since March 17

“The aid from “Whatever it costs” allowed us to get through the crisis by taking the time to think”, appreciates Charles Dorémus, general manager of Au Bureau (165 restaurants, Bertrand group). Philippe Jean, director of the Del Arte franchise (207 restaurants, Le Duff group, read opposite), confirms: “Paradoxically, we have never advanced as much as during the crisis, especially in the field of digitization.

The trend towards healthier food has also served the brands surfing on this niche: “The organic convictions that we have always held have been reinforced by this crisis”, indicates Louis Frack, co-founder and manager of the Bioburger brand (13 restaurants including 9 franchises).

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Fast food seems to have turned the page

What if restaurant brands emerged stronger from a crisis that forced them to close for nine months? The question may come as a surprise, as this sector of activity has been affected by the health context: its turnover plunged by 34% in 2020 and only rebounded by 5% in 2021, which brings the drop to two years at nearly 30%. It can however be noted that, if “at the table” catering continues to suffer (-8% in 2021), fast food seems to have already turned the page (+15%).

One thing is certain: the brands have demonstrated an astonishing ability to adapt. By developing, for example, “multichannel”: “Before the crisis, we did 40% on-site catering, 30% take-out sales and 30% delivery, explains Louis Frack. During the confinements, we went up to 70 % delivery and 30% take-out. Then we went back to the original mixed.”

“Be present on social networks”

And although they are not always profitable, deliveries and click and collect have made it possible to maintain the link with customers and stabilize a staff that is difficult to recruit: “They represented a maximum of 10% of our turnover. usual business, without real profitability, explains Charles Dorémus. But we wanted to insure them to keep part of our teams in activity and to be present on social networks.

Multi-channel, the key to profitability

For Bioburger, multi-channel is the key to profitability: “Because you don’t have to put all your eggs in one basket and because our business model is based on this balance. On-site sales allow us to make deliveries to domicile, whose commissions are very high”, explains Louis Frack, who wonders about the profitability of dark kitchens, these restaurant concepts without dining rooms, which have been deployed with the health crisis. “We have seen brands such as US Canteen or SuAndShi develop in this niche, observes Emmanuelle Courtet, director of the consulting firm Progressium. It’s a new way of doing business in the restaurant business, with less significant investment.” What will be their post-pandemic future? Hard to say. But we can already bet on profound changes.

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A new way to consume

Adaptation “Consumer expectations have changed. For a good part of the population, going to a restaurant no longer means spending an hour and a half at the table”, estimates Philippe Jean, director of the Del Arte franchise, which is launching a restaurant concept “capable of welcoming customers who have come to dine with the family, have a drink, eat a pizza at the counter, work in front of a coffee and a pastry shop…” Consumers are both more versatile and more attentive to the environmental and social commitments of signs, according to the firm Gira Conseil. The price remains the first criterion for 64% of customers. But location doesn’t seem to matter as much anymore: digital visibility is just as important. “Every restaurant must have its “instagramable” wall, comments Laurent Delafontaine, founder and director of the consulting firm Ax Réseaux. Without visibility on social networks, a restaurant does not exist. SG


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