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Emil Manchev and Jahanzeb Punjwani are bringing to the UK a new take on one of the world’s oldest premium chocolate brands. We spoke to them about their plans for Leonidas.


L


eonidas might be one of the biggest brands you don’t know you’re familiar with. Chocophiles and/or regular visitors to mainland Europe will almost certainly recognise the blue and white logo featuring the head of Greek warrior and King of Sparta, Leonidas.


Yet the premium confectionery brand, which has an enviable pedigree after originating in Belgium over a century ago, has never had a significant presence in the UK – until now.


Business partners, Emil Manchev and Jahanzeb Punjwani, who took over the UK master franchise in 2017, plan to change that with an ambitious programme of store openings totalling 55 outlets within the next five years.


Advised by Colliers London Retail Agency, they have recently opened their first full-line store at 15 Broadway close to London’s St James’s Park underground station.


Colliers’ Peter Flint comments: “The new store is very much worth a visit as it really shows what style and quality that Emil and Jahanzeb are bringing to the Leonidas brand”.


In addition to a mouth-watering selection of fresh and pre-packed chocolate, the new-generation Leonidas stores feature hot drinks (including two varieties of hot chocolate, made with melted chocolate) and an ice cream counter, where the cones are filled with a flourish of melted chocolate as they are served. Next summer a freshly-prepared chocolate frappé will be added to the menu.


The idea is to create a sense of animation that actively engages the customer while they are in the store and builds on a format already developed in many mainland European outlets. Manchev points out: “This is the first time Leonidas has done this in the UK”. With the duo bringing a fresh feel to the brand, they are also considering introducing a modern take on the brand’s historic guillotine shop window as pioneered in the original Brussels store in 1935.


Originally designed to allow chocolates to be sold directly to customers on the street, health and safety considerations mean that the serving hatch will now be located in-store. Nevertheless, it will add a further sense of theatre that Punjwani believes is vital for bricks and mortar outlets.


Thinking outside the chocolate box


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