Branding: Au Bon Pain revamps Thai stores

BANGKOK: Au Bon Pain is trading in warm tones and functional furniture for bright, powerful colours and plush sofas in a move to reposition itself as a trendy, urban cafe.

The French bakery chain is spending 136 million baht (US$3.2 million) on a facelift at 29 existing and five new stores, said Kannikar Veerapong, marketing and communications director of licensee, Royal ABP. "Before, our target was mainly young executives - first jobbers and up, " she said. "Now we are aiming for high school students from 18 years onward."

The new look, by French designer Coco Rheins, sports blue and yellow as its primary colours, with comfortable red and brown sofas, and an art deco-style typeface on menu boards. Already in the US, Taiwan and Korea, the new look will next be implemented in Chile and Japan.

ABP is banking on the fresh design to differentiate it from a growing number of competitors, and to ring in a five per cent revenue spike this year amid growing competition.

The last couple of months alone have seen the entry of local player In & Out and French bakery chain Le Notre. Existing players, including Starbucks and Mr Bean, meanwhile, have also been improving their menus.

To maintain its competitiveness, the seven-year-old Au Bon Pain will take a more proactive approach to marketing, setting aside four per cent of revenue for advertising and promotions. "We will use magazines, newspapers, radio spots and a lot of PR as well," Kannikar said. "We will also focus on direct communications with customers on our data base."

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