French bakery group Paul plans to triple the number of stores it has in the UK, opening 50 new outlets in London by the end of 2014.

Newly promoted CEO James Fleming, who joined the company as MD in April, told BB that the move was prompted by strong sales in its current 23 stores in the capital.

"The London economy is in good shape and that is reflected in the numbers from our stores. We are seeing strong organic growth and repeated requests from customers to open more stores in other areas," he said.

"The priority for the business at the moment is London, where there is still a lot of scope for expansion, but our ambitions are far bigger and I’m confident that Paul will be a major force in the UK in the future."

Apart from its existing outlets, the company, which is 100% owned by French parent company Groupeholder, has a central bakery in Acton, plus 11 franchised outlets in travel sites run by Elior. Annual turnover for Paul UK is over £20m and growing, said Fleming.

The UK shops are supplied with handmade artisanal bread from the central bakery, which takes seven hours to make, and is delivered fresh three times a day to each shop. Patisserie products are sourced directly from France and baked-off in store.

Paul has over 300 stores in its home market of France and a presence in 27 countries.