The founder of North East independent restaurant group The Fat Hippo has revealed ambitions to grow its workforce to 600 employees this year as its national roll-out heats up.
The popular gourmet burger business first opened in Jesmond 12 years ago and is now putting on a show in the London’s theatre district with the launch of its first West End venue, its latest opening as part of huge growth this year. Now managing director and founder Michael Phillips has said the company will create a further 90 jobs before the year is out, taking the workforce to the milestone figure.
He said: “Taking our workforce towards 600 people by the end of the year is a big achievement for a business that started with a single small venue in North East England, but we know that there’s a lot more potential in the brand to be realised in 2024 and beyond.”
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The Soho opening marks the Newcastle group’s second London location alongside its Shoreditch premises, and after opening five new restaurants during 2022 it is aiming to add a further three to its growing portfolio this year, including a new restaurant on Edinburgh’s George Street this summer and a venue in Bath. Several more restaurants will follow in 2024.
The Fat Hippo Group management team is working with Paul Gainford and Julie Cuthbertson of Gosforth-based RMT Accountants and Business Advisors on all aspects of its growth strategy, and with property firm @retail to secure sites.
The company was launched in 2010 when Mr Phillips opened the company’s first restaurant in Jesmond after writing his original business plan while still a student at Northumbria University.
Its Cardiff, Birmingham, Glasgow, York and Shoreditch restaurants all opened last year, and sit alongside venues in Newcastle, Durham, Leeds, Liverpool and Nottingham city centres. It also has four concession kiosks within bowling venue Lane 7’s Sheffield, Manchester, Bristol and Edinburgh sites, a concession in the Kommune urban foodhall in Sheffield and a street food fleet that travels across the UK.
Mr Phillips said: “Being in central London is an exciting step for the Fat Hippo brand, and the reception we’ve had has been everything we could have asked for. There’s obviously a lot of competition in this part of the capital, but we’re confident that the quality of our menu, the breadth of options available to customers across a wide range of demographics and the competitive pricing strategy we offer will enable our Soho restaurant to compete and succeed.
“After a very successful 2022, we’re now delivering the next phase of a growth strategy that will see us make another step change in our nationwide operations. Our focus remains very much on controlled growth and we’re also very selective in terms of the cities and spaces we consider for our new restaurants, rather than simply opening anywhere and everywhere. RMT’s advice and guidance will be central to how we do this, and their strategic input remains invaluable to the development and execution of our growth plans.”
Paul Gainford, director of commercial services at RMT Accountants, said: “Fat Hippo has become a successful national brand by staying true to its core concept, adapting to new market opportunities and securing high quality locations which fit with the character of the brand. The progress that the business has made in recent challenging conditions is very impressive and we’re proud to be a long-term part of its continuing evolution.”
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