Contracts have been signed on locations in Stratford-upon-Avon, Maidstone and Marlow which will add to the six-strong portfolio in Brighton, Hove, Crawley, Henley, Tunbridge Wells and Reigate.
The company has secured the former Strada site in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, a prime 4250 square feet unit on Earl Street in Maidstone and the former Pachanga’s Mexican restaurant adjacent to Sainsbury on West Street in Marlow.
Marlow and Stratford are both expected to open before Xmas.
Maidstone, a former members club and snooker venue, with 200 inside covers and a further 60 outside, is planned to become the chain’s tenth – and largest site – when it opens in early 2014.
Advanced negotiations are also taking place over a further site in Horsham, West Sussex.
The company, which was established in 2008, has received preliminary approaches from a number of private equity firms but will continue to fund expansion using profits and bank borrowings for the foreseeable future. Outside investment will be considered in the medium term.
The company expects to open between six and eight new sites in the fiscal year to April 2015, on its journey to become an 80-strong chain within 7 years.
Giggling Squid’s success has come as many independent outlets have see falling footfall and reduced profits, with owners bemoaning the “recession”.
“A few isolated pockets aside, the South-East never entered a recession and downturns bring as many opportunities for business as upturns bring problem” countered Giggling Squid owner Andy Laurillard, adding, “If restaurateurs are seeing fewer customers its because they’re going elsewhere.”
The most recent launch, Reigate, which has been turning away customers, since it first opened its doors on 17th July, with queues forming down the High Street a common sight.
All branches report brisk trade, with most recording record takings. Weekly group turnover consistently tops £100,000.
“We are prepared to encounter growing pains when we reach double figures and have to put in a middle management tier,” said Andy who added, “But we are already benefiting from significant economies of scale and each new opening is better than the last, as we learn how to tweak the marketing and finesse the fit out process.”
“But we will remain food led – it’s all about getting the food right."
Giggling Squid, which opened its first restaurant in 2008 in Hove, has established a strong reputation for its authentic, rustic and fresh Thai cooking with the emphasis on street food and coastal specialities. The food, described by The Times as “exciting”, is prepared by master Thai chefs using fresh ingredients, sourced locally where available.
The lunch menu offers a choice of six Tapas-style ‘tasting sets’ that allow diners to sample several of different dishes in a single sitting, costing between £8.00 and £10.50. Thai Tapas dishes can also be ordered one at a time with 16 individual dishes priced under £3.90.
The evening menu is more extensive with about 40 dishes available. The ever popular Thai Green Chicken Curry is £8.50. The signature “Giggling Squid” – steamed baby squid filled with minced chicken, squid and herbs with basil and chilli.
23 High Street
24 West Street
33 Earl Street