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CDG’s first UK franchise deal will see Belgo open in London hotel

Casual Dining Group (CDG) has secured its first UK franchise deal, which will see its Belgo brand become the main restaurant at a central London hotel.

The iconic Belgian eaterie will open its doors at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, King’s Cross Road, Bloomsbury, at the beginning of December.

The new agreement represents CDG’s fourth franchise, but its first in the UK. It follows the opening of a Café Rouge in Dubai last year; a Bella Italia restaurant in New Dehli, India, in March; and a further 18-site deal secured in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the first site restaurant set to open in December of this year.

The UK deal has been struck with Firoka Group, founded by former Oxford United FC chairman Firoz Kassam. His family’s Firoka Group is a long-term franchisee with InterContinental Hotels Group.

Belgo will be the Crowne Plaza’s main food and drink offer at the 429-room hotel, which is being converted from a Holiday Inn.

Mark Nelson, managing director of concessions and international franchising at CDG, said, “This is a very exciting development for CDG and Belgo; it’s both our first UK franchise and an initial step into the dynamic food and beverage hotel market.

“Whilst we’ve opened franchised sites abroad, this is our first on home soil and demonstrates that we’re exploring different channels and models when it comes to new openings.

“We’re delighted to be partnering with experienced hotel franchise operators in Firoka Group, and looking forward to working closely with them to make it a success.”

Firoka director Feroza Kassam said, “Belgo has become the go-to brand for great Belgian food and craft beer, and we’re very excited to be working with CDG to open its first UK franchise, within our new Crowne Plaza Hotel in the heart of Kings Cross.”

This is CDG’s seventh Belgo, and fifth in London.

Firoka Group also owns leisure venues including Heythrop Park Hotel, in Oxfordshire; and Oxford’s Kassam Stadium Conference and Events Centre.