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The Warsaw Voice » Business » May 14, 2008
FOOD and drink
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New Cafes Go for Biggest Slice of Cake
May 14, 2008   
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The empik cafe company opened its first rebranded cafe in the Arcadia shopping center in Warsaw April 21, as part of an ambitious drive to become the leading coffee-shop chain in Poland.

The company is a joint venture between Polish book and music retailer Empik Sp. z o.o. and HDS Polska, which is a subsidiary of French retailer Lagardere Services and which operates a network of coffee and newspaper shops in this country.

The joint venture, launched at the beginning of February, marries the Empik brand name, which the company says is recognizable by 90 percent of the Polish population, and HDS Polska's operational know-how.

Empik started serving coffee 60 years ago in its International Press and Book Clubs, as the stores were known then. Empik opened its current in-store cafes in 2007 to provide a place for relaxation in a pleasant atmosphere. "We have wanted for a long time to spin off our coffee-shop business into an independent arm of our enterprise," says Empik CEO Eyal Lahav. "HDS is an ideal partner for us because it has extensive retail experience, particularly on the operational side, and a wide network of stores including locations of high-traffic density."

HDS Polska operates a network of Relay and Inmedio newspaper shops, Voyage Cafes and other coffee shops. "Our dream was to create a widespread, strong coffee-shop network with a recognizable and respected brand," says HDS Polska CEO Andrzej Kacperski.

Empik has transferred its existing 23 in-store empik cafes and one in the Ursus Factory Outlet in Warsaw into the venture. HDS Polska has contributed 27 cafes, Voyage Cafes and the Arcadia location.

All will be gradually rebranded. Another nine empik-cafe openings throughout Poland are in the pipeline for this year.

empik cafe Sp. z o.o. plans to open 25 empik cafes annually from 2009 to 2012.

"We will keep rolling them out at a pace that will be largely decided upon by good location, well-trained staff and perceived demand for a quality product," says Andy Rafalat, managing director of empik cafe Sp. z o.o., who in the past set up the Pizza Hut, KFC and Pizza Express restaurant businesses in Poland. empik cafes serve authentic Italian coffee, freshly brewed leaf teas and freshly made foods.

According to Rafalat, quality coffee, a pleasant atmosphere, attractive locations and a brand with a 60-year history are the qualities that in a short time could make empik cafe the leading coffee-shop chain in Poland.

Empik owns 49 percent of the new venture, HDS Polska 51 percent. empik cafes will be located in Empik stores, on main shopping streets, shopping centers and transportation centers such as airports. Each cafe will be between 60 and 140 square meters in size and will cost zl.400,000-550,000 to build.

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