Ladurée creates the perfect mix

The high quality French baker of macaroons and patisserie is bringing its recipes and products to some central London locations. Money is no object in its pursuit of impeccable style.

The high quality French baker of macaroons and patisserie is bringing its recipes and products to some central London locations. Money is no object in its pursuit of impeccable style.

Covent Garden is buzzing at the best of times, withthe myriad of small shops selling perfumes andcoffees and fashionable clothing. But now, anothername has been added to its rollcall of famous brandsand companies. That is Ladurée, the distinguished makerand retailer of macaroons and other patisserie. The shopand restaurant on a corner of the Covent Garden Plazaoverlooking jugglers and street artists, could not bebetter positioned. This accounts for why it has taken offafter just a month since its opening in May 2011. Dinershave the opportunity both to sit outside and enjoy theCovent Garden street life, or to sit quietly in discreet upstairs rooms. These are tastefully painted, giving anineteenth century flavour of a Paris tearoom.

The company does not stint on spending to achievethis excellent style, says Benedict MacDonald, its UKmanaging director. He says everything in the CoventGarden shop is handpainted. ‘We don’t use wallpaper’.The company spent around £1.5 million on the CoventGarden premises. The company also has stores at theBurlington Arcade and Harrods. Another one opensthis August in Cornhill in the City. Ladurée has clearlydecided that the UK is a place for expansion. Ladurée’spositioning in London’s most prosperous areas means that it has not experienced the affects of recession.

The key to Ladurée’s success is quality in its foodas well as its service and decor. The company makesits patisserie and its viennoiserie at a ‘laboratoire’ atActon, in West London. This is distributed round itssites every day. The recipes are however French andthe source materials including flour are also importedfrom France. Ladurée applies strict French proceduresand is supported by its French parent organisation. Thecompany’s chefs are French trained and many of itsstaff French. Mr MacDonald has a French mother anda English-Scottish father. He was educated at the LyceeCharles de Gaulle and speaks perfect French. ‘I am abridge between Paris and London,’ he says.

He cannot speak too highly of Ladurée’s patisserie.‘Our pastries aren’t pastries, they are creations, theyare artistic. We have a beautiful lab. Our chefs create,and they love their jobs, and those pastries have beenindividually handmade, and we obviously changethem daily, we try to keep our waste down, althoughwe do not have much because the staff enjoys it. Theyare handmade and hand created every single day. Ourbakers work all through the night to produce them. Soit is a quality issue as well. We are a fantastic brand, andwith a good back up in France, it can’t really go wrong.’

To ensure the perfection of the store’s famousmacaroons, Ladurée imports them from Paris.Ladurée’s macaroons are its trophy product. They datefrom the early part of the twentieth century, whenPierre Desfontaines, the second cousin of Louis ErnestLadurée, had the brainwave of taking two macaroonshells and joining them together with a ganache filling.The company has a number of flavours which arepermanently available, including chocolate, vanilla,rose, raspberry, caramel and orange blossom. But it alsoadds flavours at different times of the year to reflectthe season. These include coconut and chestnut (forwinter) and red fruits (for summer). More than that, itcreates new flavours every year, sometimes to honourspecial events. So in 2001, it created Lime and Basil, tocelebrate the opening of Printemps du Luxe, in 2003, itcreated Candy Floss, to celebrate the publication of the3000th issue of ELLE magazine, and in 2010, it createdGranny Smith Apple, to celebrate the opening of Alicein Wonderland, the Movie.

While patisserie and Viennoiserie are its metier,Ladurée has also expanded into other luxury bathroomproducts like bath salts and creams. Mr MacDonald saysthat it will take the opportunity of its opening of itsCornhill store to launch a Secret Range and a “Beauté”range. This is designed to appeal to the female clientele,which account for some 70% of the total customers. MrMacDonald says with a laugh, ‘The ladies love to comehere. I guess we make them happy. Our profile is mostlyfeminine. However we do get nice husbands who wantsto sweet talk their wives with a box of macaroons.’

Covent Garden is only Ladurée’s third Britishlocation. It made its debut in the UK in 2004 whenit opened in Harrods. A year later it opened itsBurlington Arcade. Mr MacDonald says the Britishbusiness will turn over £8m to £10m by the end of thisyear, and hosts several hundred people a day. Laduréehas broadened out from the heartlands of Britain andFrance to embrace stores in among other locations,Italy, Luxembourg, Japan and even the Gulf.

While expansion is now the name of the game forthis standard bearer of style and bonne cuisine, MrMacDonald says that its overarching value is to lookafter the customer. ‘We have to look after customers,we are not just here to make money. People comeback again and again because people are looked after,and don’t rush. There are things we could do to makesome more revenue, but it is not in the ethos andthe way Paris likes it to be done. So no, we have tomaintain the highest quality in every single aspect ofour business.’ -NK

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<img1112|left> Un article issu de INFO Magazine,
Juillet/Août 2011
une publication de la Chambre de commerce et d’industrie française en Grande Bretagne

Hannah Meloul Medioni, Editorial Assistant, INFO Magazine
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