The rise of the Danish micro chain

SONY DSCChains stores in the traditional sense of the word are fairly moderate here in Copenhagen and in the main Scandinavian. Chains are defined as ten or more units that share a brand image and a central management but in a small country, unless you are a big company, that is quite an ambition for small businesses.

Over the last few years I have noticed the rise what I would define as micro chains, especially in the eating out and fashion sectors, here in Copenhagen. Where entrepreneurs have taken the chance to expand from one outlet to maybe another one or two in different parts of the city. Although Copenhagen is a small city, each neighbourhood has its own identity and it is worth successful businesses targeting different parts of the city. Often these are young businesses striking whilst the iron is hot and their popularity is rising. Many have won awards and accolades in their first year.IMG_9701Examples of these micro chains include Grød with three premises (including the recently opened a new shop on Guldbergsgade in Nørrebro); Bertels, cheesecake cafe with two places; We do food with a new outlet in Østerbro; Donut Shop, originally in Østerbro and now also in three other areas in the city and in 7Elevens; Social Foodies with three outlets including a new one on Nørrebrogade; Tonkin with a new place in the city as well as the original in Frederiksberg and of course Creative Space with their fab new place in Østerbro.

I wonder how big these brands will grow? I imagine a bright future for them.  After all only about 8 years ago there were only a few Joe & the Juices in the city and now that brand is on the way to Europewide domination with 42 outlets in Denmark and 26 in other European countries with more opening all the time. Sticks and Sushi are just managing to achieve the definition of a chain with 10 restaurants in Denmark and two (and more planned) in the UK but it is still one of the biggest homegrown restaurant chains. Cofoco is another prominent chain and success story, that since 2006 has grown to 9 restaurants including the renowned Höst, five takeaways, a supermarket line and a catering arm. I could go on – I am sure you can think of many other examples.

I also see hope for homegrown businesses to keep the invasion of homogenous foreign chains at bay. Each of the places I have mentioned here have a uniqueness about them – the products and the story behind them. Its personal and that is the thing missing from big chains. I believe that the Danish culture will keep these places genuine and with personality at the same time as allowing them to grow.

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