As Lenard Poulter unveils a new store concept he’s all fired up about the future. The founder of Lenard’s Chicken has returned to the helm of his retail chain – he sold his share to private equity in 2012. It was not a happy experience for the chicken chain, he says, and he bought back the business in 2018.
Poulter has spent nearly three years fine tuning a new business model he believes is just right for the 2020s and a younger generation that values convenience, and he’s keen to get the future rolling with new franchisees on board.
“I’m more excited today than I was three years ago,” he says.
So what’s changed? The cost-effective 40sqm Lenard’s chicken shop today is a world away from the traditional 80–100sqm store we are all familiar with. It’s modern and convenience-oriented, with a 50/50 frozen/fresh product mix of ready-to-eat meals.
The key to the retail model is ‘ grab and go’ for the customer, and a hub and spoke business model for the franchisee.
Franchisees will need a commissary kitchen, which can also have a storefront, and a van to deliver the product to the stores in their area.
“Really, the big thing is it’s a roll-in roll-out. We don’t manufacture on site so the fitout is less than $100,000. It’s more modern and engaging with young consumers.”
Another idea is the Lenard’s Kitchen ready-to-eat range which will focus on flavoursome chicken, and plenty of it, rather than the sauce-heavy options Poulter sees included in the growing range of supermarket ready-meals.
He is also confident the frozen meal has a significant role to play in consumer’s buying habits, and cites a Canadian former butcher’s business which now has 200 stores of frozen food.
“Now everything is cooked. They freeze in trays – that’s where I see ourselves. It costs a lot to get casserole fresh to the consumer but we can freeze it.”
He is predicting a pre-packed future and believes the direction the business is heading will help reclaim some of the ground lost over the past few years.
“This is a genuine turnaround of the business,” Poulter promises.
This story originally appeared on sister site, Inside Franchise Business Executive.