Avoca set for major Irish and UK expansion

Aramark, which has agreed to buy the luxury cafe and retail chain for €60m, will consider bringing it to US

Avoca outlets are mostly clustered around Dublin and Wicklow. It also operates from Kerry, Belfast and has a retail-only store in Connemara

Avoca outlets are mostly clustered around Dublin and Wicklow. It also operates from Kerry, Belfast and has a retail-only store in Connemara

 

Avoca’s new owner Aramark is to finance an aggressive expansion of the brand in Ireland before taking it to the UK. The multinational caterer, which bought the cafe chain from the Pratt family for about €60 million, may also open outlets in the US.

Over the next two years, Avoca is to add five or six new cafe and retail stores to its existing network of 11 in Ireland, according to Aramark Ireland’s chief executive, Donal O’Brien.

Mr O’Brien mentioned Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford as potential locations. Avoca outlets are mostly clustered around Dublin and Wicklow. It also operates from Kerry, Belfast and has a retail-only store in Connemara.

Simon Pratt, Avoca’s managing director who has signed a three-year contract to stay on under the new owners, said it is initially targeting major urban areas outside the capital, but it will also consider opening a flagship store in Dublin city centre.

‘Destination-style’ cafes

“We would consider a full-blown offering in Dublin city centre if we can get the right location and the right price.”

When asked if a premises such as a redeveloped Clerys building might suit Avoca, Mr Pratt said “it would have to be something of that size” to justify an expensive city centre location.

Mr Pratt worked “in the background” with Aramark’s property team while talks were ongoing since the spring, scouting new locations, said Mr O’Brien.

He said the first new location announcement should be “early in the new year”.

Following the Irish expansion, it will target greater London with at least three large destination-style outlets that are accessible from major routes such as the M25 London ring road.

It will also open a bakery in the UK.

European interest

The acquisition announced this week is subject to approval from State competition officials.