In Focus

EXCLUSIVE: Carluccio's Chief Executive Neil Wickers Discusses New Concept Via Carluccio's

Following Carluccio’s announcement of the opening of their new concept Via Carluccio’s, we spoke with Chief Executive Neil Wickers about what’s ahead for the grab and go concept.

QSR: What was behind the decision to open up a new grab and go concept?

When I joined Carluccio’s a year ago I was impressed by the quality of our food offering and noticed how some of our restaurants had a very successful lunchtime takeaway offering. It was one of our best kept secrets. People were coming to us due the lack of restaurant quality hot food offerings and I felt it was an opportunity that we could develop further. From that starting point, we developed the idea of Via Carluccio’s.

QSR: Why did you decide on a separate brand identity for the new concept?

For a takeaway offering, location is key. You need to be very close to your customers as they won’t travel far for their meals during working hours. Added to this dynamic is the fact that we are very focussed on the ergonomics of our spaces, which made it difficult to offer an expanded takeaway menu from our existing stores without compromising the existing restaurant spaces. However, we knew that we wanted to leverage the Carluccio’s name, whilst indicating that the offering would be different, which is how we decided upon Via Carluccio’s.

QSR: What will Via Carluccio’s pricing and menu strategy be?

Our pricing will be set to be competitive with other food to go offerings, and similar to the price point for takeaways from our existing Carluccio’s restaurants. Via Carluccio’s will also share Carluccio’s food philosophy, although the menu will not be identical. It will offer a daily changing menu of create your own salads and pasta.

QSR: Who do you see as your direct competition?

We see ourselves competing against any provider of grab and go breakfasts and/or lunches. We will also trade through to early evening depending on location. Our coffee offering is great which gives us a huge advantage in morning trade.

QSR: Why did you choose Tottenham Court Road as your first location?

The Via Caluccio’s offering needs to appeal to office workers and commuters. Tottenham Court Road attracts both these markets together with having a large student population. That is what made it such an attractive site for us.

QSR: How many outlets are you planning on opening and in what locations?

This is something new we are trying. We expect to open 3 to 4 outlets within the next year and then evaluate things from there. I expect these initial stores will all be in London though I can also see for potential for the concept outside of London.

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