EL&N is the leading Instagrammable café and lifestyle brand and everything they make is irresistibly chic, pink perfection and their products help customers create that picture perfect moment – every time. Here, RLI spends some time with company Founder Alexandra Miller to learn more about this fast-growing concept, what it offers visitors and what is on the cards moving forward.
Standing for Eat, Live and Nourish, everything that EL&N create is informed by these three overarching ideas. They offer the most delectable food and drink offering in a stunning setting providing products for living a stylish lifestyle and having a positive ethos.
Unveiled in 2017, the brand was originally meant to be just one small café in Mayfair. They began life by wanting to create a safe space where people could come and relax, enjoy delicious food and drink and stay late without the need for anything alcoholic.
Just a few years later and after multiple successful site launches in London and beyond, the company has taken social media by storm and the brand embodies creativity, style and optimism and their dedicated team of baristas, chefs, marketers and industry experts work together to bring the EL&N vision to life.
“It was pivotal that the café was Instagrammable and picture perfect, which is where the beautiful interiors and flower walls came into play,” explains Alexandra Miller, Founder of EL&N. “Back when we opened our first store, we were the first brand in the UK to create a flower wall café which was amazing. We took inspiration from Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s wedding, they had a beautiful white rose flower and I remember thinking how stunning and impactful it was.”
EL&N currently operates in seven countries, with 22 cafés spread across London, Paris, Milan, Dubai, Riyadh, Kuwait and Doha. Their expansion plan in the coming two to three years in terms of international growth is extremely aggressive and they could not be more excited to bring the brand to new corners of the globe.
Two of their most recent site openings have taken place in the last few weeks in Riyadh where they opened a beautiful Penthouse-themed café in Riyadh Front and a café in 7th Boulevard which was based-off fashion prints and bold pops of colour.
“This was the first time we have ever opened two locations in the space of five days which is a big milestone for us. The more locations we open, the stronger and faster our teams become at perfecting successful openings,” exclaims a very proud Miller.
Behind the scenes there is an abundance of activity going on, with a lot more international openings coming up and they are due to branch out of London and into other key destination cities in the UK. Miller feels that 2023 and 2024 is going to be a pivotal time for EL&N, not only in terms pf global expansion, but also with exciting brand partnerships and collaborations in the pipeline.
When discussing how the business create new products or initiatives to maintain its niche position in the market, Miller comments on how the UK consumer has completely different buying habits to a consumer in Dubai. Because of this they had to learn very quickly how to adapt their model to suit those unique buying habits. She explains that for example, in the MENA region where they recently expanded to, guests have a slightly sweeter taste pallet, so they had to ensure that their cakes and pastries were slightly sweeter than in their UK cafes.
“It is all about adaptation and how you really listen to your customer demographics needs, at the end of the day, these are the people who will keep your business surviving and thriving. Education and teaching the consumer about who you are and what you are offering is key. We open up in new countries with local adaptation in mind, so we retail about 50 to 60 per cent of our brand and the remainder is adapted to the local consumer buying habits.”
Discussing the topic of Covid, which Miller highlights is still an on-going issue for many businesses across the world she explains that just before it all started, they focused all of their efforts into making EL&N an international brand. She continues by saying that the UK had gone into complete lockdown, but they were so lucky that they could pivot their strategy to focus on worldwide expansion and helping out partners in local markets to bring EL&N into new territories. This massively aided them with additional revenue streams which allowed them to survive and run comfortably throughout the pandemic and they are now very fortunate to be in a strong position as they focus all their energy into international openings, digitalisation and their core retail line.
“So, six countries later and after 17 store openings in under five years, the number one question we get asked is, ‘how do you plan on making sure EL&N stays relevant and isn’t just another Instagram fad?’ The simple answer here is, innovation is key. We have a plan to open 120 cafés over the next three years and with that comes even more unique ideas, staying up-to-date with the latest trends, following all the new social media platforms and making sure we stay authentic and true to ourselves,” Miller concludes.