Terence Conran’s soon-to-be-rolled-out Albion café and bakery concept is part of an influential new breed of independent bakery shops that combine upmarket retail with casual dining.
That’s the view of retail analyst Greg Hodge, from research company Planet Retail, who says that upmarket bakery shops and cafés, such as Gail’s, Hummingbird, Konditor & Cook and Patisserie Valerie, are having a growing influence on larger chains. "These independent retailers are at the cutting edge and are starting to have an impact on the larger players," he said. "The deli-cum-café concept is all about fast-casual dining and you can see this trend developing with chains such as Carluccio’s and Nando’s, which combine elements of retail and foodservice in a relaxed setting."
The latest in this new generation of outlet is Shoreditch-based bakery and café Albion, due to be rolled out to three sites in London next year. Restaurateur Terence Conran has invested £10-£15m in the project, which will open new outlets in Covent Garden, Victoria and Regent’s Park in the spring and summer. The chain could also be exten-ded nationally.
"Albion has been such a smash hit in Shoreditch we really feel it is something that could work throughout London and beyond," said Conran. "Albion is in many ways a British version of Carluccio’s, with a small shop and a café. But it makes bread instead of pasta and has well-known British dishes on the menu."
Hodge added: "People like the quirkiness of independents and the fact they are not a chain."