“This is a long-time coming,” Paris Baguette CEO Jack Moran said earlier this year regarding the company’s anticipated entry into Canada in 2022.
The international bakery-café chain is set to open its first Canadian location in Toronto’s posh Yorkville neighbourhood next summer.
In all, the brand, which has more than 6000 locations in the U.S. and internationally, plans to open more than 100 stores across Canada.
Paris Baguette is owned by South Korean-based food-and-beverage company SPC Group.
Moran spoke with Canadian Business Franchise about the how the company’s expansion to the Great White North has a personal slant for him, and how he feels they will fill a huge void in Canada.
Canadian Business Franchise (CBF): How did you get into the franchising business in the first place?
Jack Moran (JM): I started my career in the world of burgers, beer, and memorabilia at the Hard Rock Café. I was the country manager in Canada and worked in cities such as Banff, Calgary, and Montreal. In 1999, I moved to Paris, France, and became a bakery/café aficionado. I’ve now been in the bakery industry for more than 20 years.
CBF: Why is Canada such an important piece of the company’s plans?
JM: I remembered Tim Hortons from my time in Canada, and the success they had. But I didn’t think there was a real bonafide franchise bakery opportunity in a country that loves baked goods.
While with another company, we attempted to bring the business to Toronto. We had it up to four potential locations, but it didn’t work out due to issues with the franchisee.
When I joined Paris Baguette, I immediately set my eyes back on Canada. I wanted to do it the right way this time. It’s been a labour of love for 20 years.
CBF: Where are you planning to open new franchises?
JM: Our flagship Toronto store is set to open at 110 Bloor St. W. in the Yorkville neighbourhood. We feel like we could bring another high-end food establishment to the area. We are looking to open some corporately owned stores. The original plan was to have all franchised stores, but we didn’t want to put all the pressure on the franchisees. The plan is building a small ecosystem with an initial focus on the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
CBF: What is your strategy for expanding the system?
JM: We have a long-term plan. We were divided about whether we wanted to start with Vancouver or Toronto. There is a lot of brand recognition in British Columba with the expatriate Asian community. That recognition makes it easier to leverage the brand as we’ve had inquiries from Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and the GTA.
CBF: What do you look for in new franchisees?
JM: We like someone who has business experience, such as operating and owning their own business, as well as someone with access to capital. I should note you don’t always get that with one person.
CBF: What is your system’s competitive edge compared to other Canadian bakery chains?
JM: We started out in 1945 as a retail bakery, and we quickly became a mass producer of bread.
We became more of a manufacturer, and to this day, we make all the raw ingredients.
The most difficult part of making a cake is making the cake batter—there is an art to it, and you can easily mess up, so we take care of that. It’s all done for you as a franchisee.
CBF: Why is it important for franchisees to build community partnerships, and can you provide some examples?
JM: We believe the local bakery/café should be the heart of the community—that is how it functions best. We have franchises in several different countries involved in their community in their own way. It’s critical for them to be involved some way for us to achieve our mission.
CBF: What other advice do you have for your franchisees?
JM: It can be a brutal industry. You are baking seven days a week, 365 days a year. It is not for big corporate chains, bakeries run much better with a local owner.
My advice for anyone who is thinking to be a franchisee is that running a bakery is about spreading joy. You are genuinely making people happy. People do not come to a bakery because they are sad—you are in a mood to have fun, celebrate, and to be happy.