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River Cottage looks to expand

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River Cottage has announced plans to expand over the next few years.

According to Big Hospitality, the chain run by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall will aim to expand by two or three restaurants annually for the next few years.

This is good news for the catering industry, as high profile brands such as River Cottage often need the best catering and kitchen equipment to offer a high quality dining experience.

The chain currently has three restaurants - one each in Axminster, Plymouth and Bristol. Its expansion so far is looking to stay in the south-west and potentially the south-east, with recent planning permission approved for a facility in Winchester. This will become River Cottage Canteen Winchester. It is expected to open at some point in the middle of 2014 and will cover 140 over its two floors.

River Cottage's director Rob Greacen said: "We like what the business is doing. At the moment it's not a very big group of restaurants but we've been expanding steadily and we're trading really well."

"It's not a major, venture capital-backed rollout. We're looking at two to three new sites a year over the next couple of years."

He said the chain is always looking for special buildings with character, citing the locations in Bristol and Plymouth as examples that have this. River Cottage is looking to cover any new expansion with profits gained from current restaurants.

The brand started out in 2010 in Axminster after Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall used the former pub during his Chicken Out! TV campaign. This was followed by a canteen - covering 120 - in Plymouth during 2011 while its third location in Bath opened earlier this year.

Mr Greacen stated new venues would look and feel different from existing examples, claiming the brand was "not very format-based". River Cottage focuses on sustainability and local supplies instead of a chain-based standard. This was emphasised yesterday (September 30th) when it was announced it had partnered with Marriott Hotels to offer more sustainable food in the hotels, including seasonal menus at the Cardiff Marriott and Hollins Hall in west Yorkshire.ADNFCR-16001031-ID-801644478-ADNFCR

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