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Albion and its ‘cool urban austerity’ Albion and its cool urban austerity

Sir Terence Conran has plans to take his Shoreditch newcomer, Albion, and use it as a prototype for a national chain.

Leases have already been negotiated for Victoria, Regent’s Park and near Covent Garden to open in the first half of next year, he told the Evening Standard.

Sir Terence is quoted as having been “amazed” by the success of Albion which has “been such a smash hit in Shoreditch, we really feel it is something that could work throughout London and beyond”.

Let’s hope it works somewhat better than Sir Terence’s last attempt at a national chain: Zinc (quickly nicknamed “Sink” by less kind souls).

Much of the inspiration, apparently, is the success of the Italian chain Carluccio’s founded by his sister, Priscilla, and brother in law, the famed, mushroom-mad TV chef, Antonio Carluccio. From a single outlet off Oxford Street in 1991, the chain has spread to become 50-strong, netting the couple £11m from a sale of their stake in 2005.

Carluccio’s started quite well with our reporters, but after the sale its relentless dumbing down of standards and “faux-foodie vibe” has grated with them more and more.

According to our 2010 survey, the first Shoreditch branch of Albion shows Sir Terence’s hallmark “cool urban austerity” but is “typical Sir Tel” in that while “the vibe is good… the food is hit-and-miss”.

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