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Beer-driven Affordable, Ambitious

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Despite the massive economic crisis, within 12 years the Spanish first-casual brand 100 Montaditors has developed into one of Spain’s biggest foodservice players, with about 250 stores and some 120 mn in sales revinue. Since 2011 this franchise formula, with its distinct focus on beer and hundred differently field ‘mini-baguettes’ (montaditos), extremely low prices, massive price promotions, special order system and stores of the taberna design, has been on a world tour. By the end of 2015 the company, currently with just under 20 stores outside Spain, intents to have a strong multinational presence. This is already talk of a ‘Spanish Starbucks’ or the ‘Zara filled baguettes’.

At the moment we are opening a restaur­ant every three days,” says Carlos Pérez Tenorio, CEO of 100 Montaditos.The brand has plenty of practice in fast network ramification: Founded in 2000 by José María Fernández Capitán in Islantilla, Andalucia, it had a first franchise store even in the year it was born. In 2004 the current Group President created Grupo Restalia with headquarters in Madrid for further expansion via franchising. In 2005, 100 Montaditos had 69 units – an expansion whose speed is reminiscent of Starbucks and Subway in Europe. From 2007 to 2011 the number of outlets doubled from 100 to 200 – and today the company has just under 250 units. By comparison, ’s currently has 445 stores in Spain, with system sales of €951 m.

“We intend to be the spearhead of popular Spanish cuisine in the world” – such is the mission. 100 Montaditos is a concept which, after seeing success in its own country, will also enjoy success internationally,” says Tenorio.

“Get a taste of our culture and lifestyle in Spain,” the English-language website invites you.

The brand’s DNA:

Product. The montaditos are 15 cm long and about 4 cm wide compact baguettes made of ‘good’ bread, which, par-baked and fully-baked à la minute, comes in 7 varieties. The most popular is the lightly salted ‘secret original recipe bread’, with the brand logo engraved by laser. There is also bread with sunflower seed, ciabatta, bread with onions, olives, cereals and chocolate. You can select from 100 different fillings, including many with meat or poultry (sausages, , raw or cooked ham, chicken), fish (anchovy, salmon, calamares, tuna) and also vegetarian fillings, such as ‘4 cheeses’ or ‘Tortilla de patatas’ (omelette with potatoes).

Maximum individuality. 75 percent of the fillings are cold, 35 percent hot – but, since they are ready baked, all montaditos come warm to the table. The best-seller – world-wide – is ‘jamón serrano with olive oil’, followed in Spain by ‘potato omelette with salad and mayonnaise’ and cooked ham. In the international markets, the menu includes local dishes, such as hot dog in the USA or ‘montadito de cochinita pibil’ in Mexico. But most of it is the same world-wide – and is made of Spanish ingredients. You can order your montaditos singly or as ‘combos’ of five to seven items. They come with five varieties of salad, nachos and potatoes, plus olives and potato chips as appetizer.

One outlet sells a good average of 500 montaditos a day, which makes 3,500 a week. Across the whole system, the word is of 40 mn baguettes sold annually in Spain. Plus 20 m litres of beverages, of which beer accounts for an estimated 75 percent. Red wine and soft drinks are also on offer. By the way, strictly speaking, ‘montadito’ means those slices of baguette bread with various fillings which are familiar as classical tapas. Fernández Capitán has, as it were, given the word a new significance.

Prices. With a price range of €1-2 for a montadito with whatever filling you like, €3.90 for the salads, (gratinated) nachos and potatoes for €2.50, and €1-1.50 for olives and €1 for chips, no product on the menu exceeds the four-Euro mark. Hence, the average cheque per person of about €7 – including beverage(s). A combo of 5 x 0.2 l beer bottles, for instance, costs €3. “Our affordable prices, combined with our price campaigns, are the best anti-crisis concept,” says Tenorio. Overall unemployment in Spain currently stands at more than 26 percent, nearly six million people being out of work. Among young people it is actually 55 percent.

Price campaigns. Simple, clear, direct – “our campaigns are the very soul of our brand.” As far as permanent, high-profile price promotions are concerned, the company is one of the pioneers in the Spanish restaurant industry. The most successful among them, called ‘Euro­mania’ or, depending on the currency of the country concerned, ‘Dollarmania’ or ’Pesomania’, was launched in 2008, to encourage more guests to come in the middle of the week. On Wednesdays all products on the menu are available at €1, as are large drinks, if the guest orders food to go with them. The 200 percent increase in the number of guests led to the campaign being made permanent in character. In the wake of falling expenditure per head in the leisure sector among Spaniards, the campaign was extended to include Sunday. “Response has been so good that we are definitely keeping this,” says Tenorio.

On ‘San Monty’s Day’, Fridays, you can enjoy a montadito hot dog plus beer or a small soft drink for €1. And ‘Tablamania’ encourages guests to buy the ‘mixed montaditos platters’, with five to seven baguettes, for a joint price of €6 (1 ‘tabla’), €10 (2) or €12 (3). Along with young guests, this also attracts families.

“The promotions, advertised in our restaurants and on social networks, are designed to help us meet more people and to gain a permanent place as a catering solution in their normal week,” explains head of communication Anne Corcuera.

Operations. The surroundings? Fast casual. The products? Fast to casual. And the operations? Fast, and low on staff. The reason? A highly efficient ordering system. You do not give your order dir­ectly at the central counter, but by means of an order block on the table. Here the guest notes his selection on the card (placed on every table), using the pencil provided and, stating a name, gives the order in at the counter, where he also pays, is given the drink he wants plus – free of charge – something ‘para picar’, such as chips or olives. Then, within five minutes (only in absolute rush hours, according to the company, does it last longer) a loudspeaker announcement lets the guests know whose order is ready for collection.

Preparation is à la minute – you can follow it by looking into the kitchen, which is located near the bar, separated by a glass window. An outlet has four to seven staff per shift, depending on size.

Design. The design of 100 Montaditos emphasises its country of origin, using natural materials and original elements, such as wooden furnishing and Andalusian tiles, to give the look of Spanish taverns at the start of the 20th century. The restaur­ants are intended to convey the Spanish love of life and love of good food.

Outlets. Mostly in 1-a locations, that is, popular shopping streets, tourist meeting points, and shopping centres.

Expansion. 250 restaurants in 12 years – 100 percent made by franchisees. The company currently has about 240 of these. In other words, there are just a very few franchisees running more than one outlet. Preference is given to individual, local entrepreneurs. Their “maximum commitment and enthusiasm for the brand” are, it is said, as important for success as the “straightforward, professional, innovative and dynamic work” of the still young Grupo Restalia.

The Group runs efficient training for all its staff at La Academia, its own organisation in Madrid, monitors uniform product and service standards, and oversees the development of corporate strategies for marketing, purchasing and sales.

In response to the crisis, Grupo Restalia recently created a new business model: 100 Montaditos Version 2.0. Through systemisation and optimisation of processes, and concentration on “outlets with efficient dimensions” of 80-100 sqm, it will now be possible to open restaurants with a capital investment of just €150,000 – previously the rule was double this or more. The investment costs, says the company, are recouped on average by the profits of the first three years.

One of the reasons for this, says Tenorio, is the “large-volume contracts and long-term agreements with our main suppliers.” Beer, bread and soft drinks have been provided by the same sup­pliers since day 1 and now travel from Spain to America.

International growth. The first outlet abroad of 100 Montaditos opened at the end of 2010 in Oporto, Portugal; the transatlantic pilot unit was added in Miami in March 2011. The headquarters for the USA works from this city, too. In 2012 Mexico and Colombia joined the network. Now there are about 20 outlets outside the home country, including a first Italian store opened in Rome this May. “After every opening we get 20 new enquiries,” says Juan Gervás, in charge of the South American region. “We are growing fast but in a controlled way, based on solid work.”

When it comes to its international business, 100 Montaditos relies primarily on enthusiastic individual local entrepreneurs, not on master franchise holders. Nevertheless, the company says it welcomes the opening of further outlets per franchisee. In Chile, the property group Senerman recently signed up to open three outlets. There are additional plans to open restaurants in the USA under the company’s own management. “In this context we are thinking about an IPO,” says Tenorio. But this is merely a potential scheme for the future.

The Group’s aim has been set out: 100 Montaditos will become the first global restaurant brand from Spain. “We move like a fish in water – rapid, adaptable, confident. Our ‘cool-hunting’ department takes the temperature of our guests, and of the street, every day, to identify needs and trends.” Two R&D teams, one in Europe, one in the USA, are working to develop ever new recipes and campaigns. “Reliability on the one hand, constantly new ideas on the other – that is our formula for success.”

It is planned to open at least 100 new stores in 2013, mainly in Spain and the Americas.

That the Restalia Group can speed ahead can be seen from their second concept: La Sureña, founded in 2010, already has more than 50 stores in Spain. And in the course of this summer the Group intends to roll out a third foodservice formula, which is planned to have ten outlets already by the end of the year: foodservice pilots in ­Formula-1 mood.