Belgian baker to increase its London eateries

Le Pain Quotidien, the upmarket Belgian café and bakery, is to grow its UK store estate by a third this year after it surged into profitability in 2011.

The London-centric operator will also pay a dividend of £701,125 to its parent company PQ Licensing after profit margins rose through better buying and increased turnover.

Diane Wood, the finance director at Le Pain Quotidien UK, which has 20 cafés in London, said: "Last year, we were concentrating on improving profitability, and this year we are concentrating on opening more stores."

The food chain opened only one new outlet in 2011 but, having opened two already this year in central London, it plans to add another four in the capital, taking it to 24 by the end of the year.

The baker delivered pre-tax profits of £3.12m for the year to 25 December 2011, following a loss of £757,994 over the previous 12 months. While it grew turnover by 22 per cent, to £26.42m, the UK operation's profit figure benefited from a £3.42m adjustment in the royalty payment to its parent company.

Le Pain Quotidien has a large presence overseas, including cafés in India, America, France, the Middle East and Australia.

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