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Circle 360 plans to expand its shopping centre Champagne bar concept to up to 20 UK sites

Published:  05 August, 2014

Champagne and cocktail bar concept Circle 360 is planning to have 15 to 20 UK sites by the end of 2015, with its first international outlets also in the pipeline.

The company, which focuses on opening venues in shopping centres, currently has five sites trading, with a sixth due to open this weekend in London's Brent Cross. It is planning to open one more company-owned site in Manchester's Trafford Centre by the end of the year.

The firm has also identified opportunities for international expansion, both in China and Spain. It is planning to visit Shanghai later this year. Its domestic growth will help it "dominate the UK market but give us the right sort of structure internationally," Norris Panton, the firm's operations director, told

British shopping centre group Intu, which owns 18 UK centres, has opened its first Spanish outpost in Asturias, with plans afoot to grow throughout Spain, and Circle 360 is already in talks and planning a visit to Spain.

Panton said its unique concept was generating a lot of interest in the shopping centre environment, and helping to open doors. The company is 95% drinks led, with 5% of turnover coming from food.

"We tried to create something special mid-mall in the major regional shopping centres. We found we appeared to have a niche when you look at the top 50 shopping centres. There are at least 30 to 40 more sites we could develop to. At that point either you take on funding or self-fund - we absolutely control the business. We are agile and move quickly to cherry-pick opportunities."

"If the opportunity is 30 to 40 stores [in the UK] then it will take eight years to reach saturation point. Either we raise some funds through private equity or we look at franchising."

Panton said it has worked with franchise consultants and that its framework is "quite simple", as it has no back-of-house staff nor requirements for special skill sets such as chefs. A franchise for a smaller outlet in a regional shopping centre would start at around £130,000, rising to £230,000 for a larger cocktail bar, Panton said.

It sold its first franchise in June, and it launched in July in Glasgow's Buchanan Galleries. It plans to watch and learn from the first site for six months to refine the concept and processes before expanding further.