Wedome's new introductions this year include L'allumette de Lyon. Photos provided to China Daily
Wedome savors its success as a culinary bridge between China and France as the bakery chain gears up for national expansion
Twenty-plus years after launching Wedome, the French bakery that has become ubiquitous in Beijing, it seems that the fun for founder Huang Li is just beginning.
With about 350 stores, 300 of them in the capital, the company is poised for a major expansion. Right now, Shanghai looms as the shining city on a hill.
"In our Beijing stores," says the company's managing director, "we sell about 50 fresh baguettes every day. In Shanghai stores, we sell 300."
Long an international city, Shanghai is also a far more competitive market for Western food, but that doesn't faze Huang.
"The competition is big, but the market is bigger," he says with a grin.
"With the base and infrastructure we have in Beijing," he adds, "we are ready to do things on a big scale."
Many would say the company already does just that, with a new store opening every week and an average of 100,000 customers flowing through the entire chain daily. Wedome reported sales of 1.14 billion yuan ($168 million) in 2016.
Upgraded stores with casual seating offer customers a chance to rest and have a quick bite, but Huang acknowledges that even these stores don't have quite the feel of the French cafes he loves when he visits Paris. "There it is a big pleasure to sit outdoors and linger over coffee and pastries," he says. "In Beijing, it's much harder to do that."