THERE are no plans to change the format of Aroma cafÃ©s following the sale of the brand to McDonald’s for 10m.
Michael Zur-Szpiro, Aroma founder and designer and now partner and strategic director of Wolff Olins, says he is happy, proud and amazed that the group he started nine years ago has been bought by the world’s largest food brand after a six-month courtship.
Zur-Szpiro maintains that the sale is a tribute to the design strengths of the Aroma brand, which he developed with architect ORMS and graphic designer Nick Hockley.
“If it hadn’t been a good brand they wouldn’t have bought it, and because it’s a good brand I think they’re unlikely to change it,” he says. “They love the hot vibrancy of our stores and I’m sure they’ll adopt our design guidelines.”
A McDonald’s spokesman confirms this. “The two companies will be run entirely separately – they both have very distinct brand identities and that will remain the case,” he says.
The acquisition is the first time McDonald’s has bought another chain outside the US with the aim of developing it as a separate brand. Zur-Szpiro adds: “It shows that the UK is becoming the cradle of cafÃ© society.”
Zur-Szpiro has only worked part-time for Aroma since 1996 and will now concentrate on his work at Wolff Olins.
Aroma chairman Finlay Scott will remain for a short time as consultant. Former McDonald’s accountant David Gerrard meanwhile becomes managing director of the 23-strong Aroma chain and will oversee its expansion away from its London heartland.