US doughnut chain Krispy Kreme has opened its first shop in Paris, hoping to follow in the footsteps of other American fast-food franchises have won over the French in recent years.
While doughnuts are not unknown in France, they are generally an item among others at bakeries and other outlets, not the main billing.
The Californian chain Randy's Donuts opened in the French capital in October 2022 but closed a few months later.
So to succeed in its 39th foreign market, Krispy Kreme's director general for France, Alexandre Maizoue, has pulled out all the stops: home delivery starting early next year, opening a production site in the eastern suburb of Creteil in 2024, and reaching 500 stores within five years.
"I think we have some great years ahead of us," he said. The company has already invested more than two million euros ($2.2 million) in its first store and production facility.
To ensure buzz, Krispy Kreme launched a huge publicity campaign -- with the Paris City Hall even accusing it of illegal postering -- and handed out some 100,000 doughnuts at various places around Paris.
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A deejay and a red carpet welcomed clients to the Wednesday opening of the new store in the Halles shopping centre in central Paris.
According to Maizoue, around 400 people were in line at 8 am for the opening, with a total of 3,000 coming the first day.
The chain's first French store is offering 13 varies of doughnuts, or "donut" as it known in France, with clients able to observe the production behind a glass wall -- a hallmark of the brand.
'American way of life'
"When we opened the first doughnut boutique in Paris in 2015, everyone told me it would not work here," Amanda Bankert, an American baker who runs Boneshaker Donuts, told AFP. "I did not know that doughnuts were associated with what is worst in American food."
"It is very sugary, very chemical," Karima Prince, a 51-year-old beautician, said as she tried an "Original Glazed", the classic product of Krispy Kreme, founded in 1937.
Krispy Kreme can count on some devoted followers such as David Mitrani, a 33-year-old accountant who discovered the brand abroad and was at the Paris store opening.
"What surprised me is not that they have come to France, but that it took so long," he said.
For Francois Blouin, founder of research firm Food Service Vision, the French are hardly reticent to try American foods. "France may be a country of gastronomy but it is also one of the places where American-influenced chains do well," he said.
Bankert, the Boneshaker founder, said she was optimistic for the American chain's prospects.
"In 2015, it might have been different, but I think today it will work for Krispy Kreme," she said.