The Korean bakery chain Paris Baguette on Tuesday opened its first outlet in the city after which it is named, in the bustling Chatelet district close to tourist attractions like Notre Dame and the Louvre.
It took Paris Baguette 26 years to actually get to Paris since it opened its first outlet in downtown Seoul in 1988.
The Paris Paris Baguette will sell mainly traditional French baked goods like croissants and baguettes prepared by local methods. It occupies three floors of a nine-story building, with the bakery in the basement, sales space and tables on the ground floor and living quarters for the bakers on the second.
All 13 staff were hired in France.
But the outlet is run as a bakery cafe according to the Korean model, with 46 seats where customers can drink coffee with their pastries.
Hur Young-in, the chairman of SPC Group which operates Paris Baguette, always believed that Paris Baguette needs to succeed in France to grow globally, but opening the Paris outlet took eight years. There are some 1,200 bakeries in the French capital, and it is unclear whether it needs another.
Opening a new bakery is fiendishly difficult since it requires the approval of local residents as well as a cumbersome bureaucratic process. An easier way is to buy an existing bakery and renovate it, but most bakeries there are family-owned, and few are put up for sale.
SPC spent six years looking for the right spot for its cafe-style bakery. After choosing the store in Chatelet in late 2012, it spent the next two years obtaining the approval of local residents for everything including the color of the signboard.
The group plans to send one to two bakers from Korea to the Paris store for training on a regular basis.