Boojum unveils all-island expansion: Four new restaurants and 120 jobs
Belfast-based burrito chain Boojum is creating 120 jobs as it rolls out four new stores across Ireland.
Brothers David and Andrew Maxwell are opening two locations in Belfast and another two in the Republic as they begin expanding one of our most successful and popular fast-food operations.
The brothers took over Boojum seven months ago, a Mexican chain that started off in Belfast's Botanic area and has five outlets across the island.
One of the new Belfast eateries will be on Great Victoria Street. The location of the second has yet to be revealed.
The company is also opening a new Dublin store in April on Abbey Street, plus another location either in the capital or in Galway.
"We've done a lot on the branding in the store and with the managers and staff," David Maxwell said.
"We have gone out and sourced some sites.
"Plans for 2016 would be four new store openings."
The pair are thinking big.
The firm's new, much larger Botanic outlet has already attracted a great deal more business than previously
"We found the profile of our customers has changed because families and large groups are more willing to visit us," David said. "They can get a seat and can sit down. Boojum is also expanding and growing the way it does business by looking at delivery, corporate catering and card payments.
"What we see in the future is online ordering and delivery."
While neither brother would be drawn on how well the business was performing, they revealed that all stores had experienced growth.
"They are trading well and we are very happy," David said.
"We are probably further ahead than we thought we would be seven months ago."
Boojum is planning to work alongside Deliveroo, which is the latest player in the Belfast online food ordering and delivery market.
"To handle all that, we have to put in additional equipment, so a second line set up," David explained.
The larger stores and kitchens will allow the business to enter the corporate catering world.
David and Andrew, a former Ulster Rugby player, took over the business from John Blisard last summer.
The pair had been working in the restaurant and food business for several years before deciding to take on the company.
Their expansion will increase the total workforce from 150 staff to around 270, once the four new stores are complete.
And while not in their current plans, the pair are listening to requests from people across Northern Ireland to look at opening up a restaurant in their own areas.
"We will be coming back and looking at potential locations such as Londonderry, and the larger urban areas would be well up on the list," David said.
Looking further forward, he added: "The plan is to get the company from five to 10 stores, and then take a better look at it and see."
Asked whether there were any risks to growing and expanding the business, he replied: "We don't take anything for granted.
"We have five successful and profitable stores.
"We want to build on the success of that.
"But the risks are like any other financial investments."
He also reassured Boojum fans that the food has not and will not change.