Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafes, brand and operations director, Patrick Freriks, told Inside Retail PREMIUM the plan involved, “about 30 venues by the end of 2020”.
“We have an exciting expansion plan and are looking forward to bringing the Guylian cafe concept to more Australians,” he said. “The reason we are moving forward with a big expansion now is a very high brand awareness in Australia. The great venues in Circular Quay, The Rocks and Darling Quarter are so successful that we decided that we need to expand now in the Australian market.”
The first new Guylian cafe opened on June 25 at the Honeysuckle development in Newcastle, NSW. This waterfront site attracts tourists and passing foot traffic, as well as local office workers. The grand opening on July 8 is intended to showcase the preserved traditional Guylian brand identity.
“We will bring the European look and feel of the heritage with the wooden tables, the chocolate coloured chairs,” Freriks said. “That’s the guideline in our design. Newcastle is a very beautiful venue.”
Soon after Newcastle, two more cafes will open in Melbourne – at 146 Swanston St, on July 5, and 399 Lonsdale St in the second week of August. The next Sydney store is scheduled to open at 580 George St on November 1 in the new GPT redevelopment.
Sydney is where Guylian established its footing in the Australian market. The first Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafe opened at East Circular Quay in 2008, followed later that same year with the opening of The Rocks store. The Darling Quarter store was launched in 2011. The Circular Quay and The Rocks stores attract an enviable number of tourists and passing trade, while Darling Quarter also attracts office staff as well as a mix of locals and tourists.
Guylian is looking at further sites in Sydney – including Manly and Parramatta – as well as in Brisbane and Perth. Additional locations within broader NSW, and Victoria, are under consideration.
Chocolate on the run
The nation-wide expansion will also introduce the brand’s new express model. Of the 30 projected new cafes, between 10 and 12 will be in the express format. The first of this type will be established at the Swanston St site, and will likely be followed by George St in Sydney’s CBD.
“With key traffic streets like Swanston St – every day traffic is 65,000 people passing by – we decided that this concept could be perfect,” Freriks said. “[George St] is nearby World Square and the cinemas, so this will probably be the second one in Australia,” he said.
Smaller in footprint and with a focus on takeaway, the express cafes will be around 80-85sqm; full Guylian Belgian chocolate cafes are 150-200sqm.
As well as Australia, Guylian’s expansion plans extend to New Zealand and the Middle East. Freriks said sites in Queenstown, Auckland and Christchurch are being considered, with the aim of having four or five NZ venues by 2020.
In the Middle East, the first Guylian cafe opened in May in Abu Dhabi’s Yas Mall and an express cafe will be established at the new terminal in Abu Dhabi airport by late 2015/early 2016. Five venues will be opened in both Qatar – the first opening in Doha in November – and Saudi Arabia by 2017. Guylian is also eyeing off neighboring countries including Kuwait, Dubai (two store by the end of 2015, in Dubai Mall and the Jumeirah Beach Residence) and Oman.
There are a number of enticing drawcards that attracted Guylian to the Middle East, including cafes being a social destination and the popularity of sweet food items.
“People recognise the Guylian name as a seahorse and the perception of quality is very high over there,” Freriks said. “And we deliver high standards of chocolate. We use 100 per cent cacao mass in all our chocolate.”
Founded in 1960 by Guy and Liliane Foubert – the company name was created from the combination of their first names – Guylian’s ubiquitous seashell-shaped chocolates are now sold in more than 100 countries. The flagship Guylian Belgian Chocolate Café opened in Antwerp, Belgium in 2003, but it wasn’t until last year that Belgium-based owners, Chocolaterie Guylian NV, decided to franchise the business and take the concept to a broader market.