Belgian restaurant chain Exki has fully divested from the United States. Its only two locations, in New York, have closed and plans for fifty more restaurants have been shelved.
Exki had major plans for New York as the founders planned to open fifty restaurants, but the chain failed to convert New Yorkers into healthy fast-food eaters. “In reality, people are stuck on fast-food. When we found sweeteners in our local suppliers’ products, they merely said that that is how things were done there”, founder Frédéric Rouver told Belgian newspaper De Tijd.
The company also faced several other issues, like finding loyal employees. Tips are an integral part of the US hospitality industry, but Exqi has no table service, which means that its employees do not earn as much as with other chains.
The American consumer is also vastly different to the European customer, as Exki found out: an American customer only wants to pay for quality food if it is brought to the table. “Takeaway meals represent 80 % of our turnover, so we had to either alter our quality, which we did not want to do, or cut into our margins.”
Exki is doing well in Europe though, which its expansion plans make abundantly clear. It will open another twelve restaurants in 2017, including in two new markets (Germany and Spain). The network in Belgium, the Netherlands and France will also be expanded and by the end of the year, the chain approach the milestone of 100 restaurants.