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Exclusive: Paris Baguette chief development officer talks expansion

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A bakery/café that was founded in 1988 in South Korea, where it operates some 3,600 locations, is ramping up expansion in the United States.

Paris Baguette, which in addition to South Korea operates 240 locations in China, has big plans for the U.S. market. Chain Store Age spoke with Mark Mele, chief development officer at Paris Baguette, about the brand and its new reimagined store and customer experience, which it debuted in January.

How many U.S. locations does Paris Baguette operate?
We have 99 locations in the U.S.

Does Paris Baguette franchise?  
Of our U.S. locations, 73 are franchised and 26 are corporate-owned.

What are the plans for expansion?
We plan to have 1,000 units open in the U.S. and 100 open in Canada by 2030

What is the company’s relationship with CBRE?
CBRE is Paris Baguette’s North American real estate source for retail leasing. They help us to find new sites for Paris Baguette locations.

What is the real estate strategy?
Our retail strategy is focused on suburban markets in lifestyle centers and also urban markets in dense areas. We’re targeting the top 25 U.S. and Canadian markets.

What is the average store size?
We’re focused on cafés that are 2,500 sq. ft. to 4,000 square feet.

Paris Baguette's new store environment? How is it different from what went before?
The new redesign offers a place where guests are not only going to see, smell and taste what the brand has to offer, but truly reconnect with their neighbors, family and friends, all in a setting that is inviting, authentic and exciting.       

The entrance allows our guests a more immersive experience, giving them an immediate glimpse at our bakers and cakers hard at work through a giant window. They get a preview of the expertly crafted baked and brewed goods that are inside.

Another large piece of the transformation is deepening our commitment to being the backbone of our neighborhoods with our “Love Baked In” community initiatives. We have visual elements of the local community spirit through customized murals with images of local landmarks.

Will parts of the redesign be incorporated into existing locations?
We have started to incorporate new modern touches into existing locations, beginning with artwork, packaging, and uniforms. Each touch brings an element of a warm welcoming that creates the charm necessary to become the heart of the community. 

What is the brand’s digital strategy?
We are always thinking about how we can leverage digital technology to enhance the guest experience. We’ve enhanced our digital and mobile presence to connect guests faster and in a more personal way.

We are continuing to utilize our digital strategy to innovate our in-store experiences by improving guest experience, operational efficiencies and process automations.

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