Belgian sandwich chain Le Pain Quotidien has bought back the franchise rights to the 29 stores it has in its home country. For 25 years, they had been under control of several Dutch franchisees.
In Belgian hands again, after 25 years
The chain may have its main office in New York, but the chain was founded in Brussels, still operates according to Belgian law, is run by a Belgian CEO and has Belgian shareholders. Despite all these Belgian influences, Le Pain Quotidien did not own its own Belgian stores, which were controlled by Dutch franchisees and divided under ten subfranchisees themselves.
That situation has now changed: "After 25 years, the 29 Belgian stores, including the very first in the Dansaertstraat in Brussels, will return to the nest", CEO Vincent Herbert told business newspaper De Tijd. "It would have been a disgrace if we did not leap at the opportunity to get our own brand back. Imagine Starbucks buying the rights to exploit the Belgian stores..."
Not much will change for the 10 sub-franchisees: they will simply become full franchisees and maintain full control over their stores.
No precise information was revealed about how much the shareholders (including CEO Vincent Herbert, founder Alain Coumont and former A.S. Adventure chief Emiel Lathouwers) had to pay for these 29 stores, but the CEO did confirm the sum went into the "several millions". The shareholders paid for the acquisition out of their own pocket.
Le Pain Quotidien currently has 232 stores in 17 countries, worth 375 million euro in turnover, and employs some 7,000 people. The chain seeks to add 1 or 2 stores per year in Belgium, with a sizeable expansion abroad also on the table.