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Giggling Squid to expand UK operation

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Thai restaurant group Giggling Squid, which already has eateries in Brighton, Crawley, Hove and Tunbridge Wells, is opening a fifth site in Henley-on-Thames as it attempts to become a national player by 2015.

Its new operation will have 80 seats and concentrate on the restaurant's usual fare, combining traditional Thai street food with authentic and rustic ingredients to offer a genuine taste of cooking from the Asian country.

The firm plans to open 50 new eateries in the next three years, assuming everything continues to go well, according to its chief executive and owner Pranee Laurillard.

Ms Laurillard noted that, despite the increasing popularity of Thai cuisine and its entry into the UK mainstream, there are still no national branded restaurants offering this kind of food on the high street.

With this in mind, the group intends to purchase restaurant catering equipment in a bid to fit out numerous new eateries over the coming years and fill this vacuum in the market.

Andy Laurillard, the husband of restaurant owner Pranee, told Big Hospitality that the company hopes to become the first genuinely pan-national Thai restaurant group in the UK.

Busaba Eathai has nine sites in London and one in Oxfordshire, while Thai Square has 17 restaurants in and around the London area, but neither has expanded beyond these destinations.

"I think that people opening Thai restaurants here haven't really cracked how to manage large numbers. The thing about Thai food is that you can't make it in a factory, you have to make it with chefs on-site," said Mr Laurillard.

Furthermore, he pointed out that many restaurants have yet to capture the authentic Thai experience he hopes Giggling Squid will be able to embody.

The company opened its first site in 2009 and has enjoyed impressive growth since then.

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