Peach 2020 conference round-up, downloads & pictures
The key lesson from the street food phenomenon is that as all the other issues you face increase, the focus can move away from food... we need to push that back up the agenda
Mobile phone and cloud-based computing technology is going to shake up the way restaurants and pubs engage with customers. That was one of the key themes to emerge from this year's Peach 2020 Conference.
The sell-out senior executive event, held in central London on November 17, heard that consumer-facing technology was changing fast. “Over the last two years we've see the most exciting, transformational technology implemented at the most extraordinary pace—and it is consumers who have implemented it,” said Steve Rowley, CEO of software systems specialist Torex. Contactless payment via smartphones will be the next big thing, he predicted.
Colin Tenwick, CEO of online restaurant reservations service Livebookings, echoed Rowley's forecast of much more smartphone web browsing, noting that 19% of Google's restaurant searches are now done on a mobile device, and urged businesses to get their websites optimized for mobile use. Cloud-based computing systems will bring more changes, he added, giving operators much more power and control in their IT. “Mobile and cloud computing are the two defining technologies of the next decade... We have to be in a position to deliver to these trends.”
The packed 2020 Conference also heard from a panel of top business bosses, who stressed that building compelling brands and engaged staff were their top priorities at the moment. Paul Flaum, managing director of Whitbread Restaurants, said he had work to do to lift his eating-out formats up to the standards of sister Whitbread brands like Costa and Premier Inn. “The big thing they lack is a compelling brand. What should be underneath them is a compelling proposition—something they are famous for.”
Tracey Mulligan, managing director of Little Chef, faces a similar challenge. “There are about 50 million experts on Little Chef, and it’s a brand that’s been part of the landscape for so long… What the brand means to them is what happens when they go in, and what it’s all about is creating a tiny memory for each and every customer.”
People were key to building the brand, Mulligan added. “The brand is all about the people, and all of our brands stand or fall by them.” Another important consideration is responsible social and environmental policies, said Simon Kossoff, CEO of Carluccio’s. “Social responsibility is going to impact on how our customers and our team think about us.” He said Carluccio’s also faced the challenge of protecting its brand as it grows, from a current estate of 55 to a target “well north of 100.”
Another panel session featured three young entrepreneurs—Loungers co-founder and managing director Alex Reilley, Corney & Barrow managing director Lucy Knowles and Hawksmoor co-founder and director Will Beckett. Reilley said Bristol-based Loungers could eventually reach 200 or 300 sites across Britain—a vote of confidence in the UK beyond London. “There are lots of suburbs with secondary high streets where we could see ourselves sitting.”
Knowles pointed to the importance of responding to changing markets and the advantages of being privately owned when it comes to following instincts. “Because we’re relatively small, we can make things happen quickly.” And Beckett highlighted the innovation that has driven Hawksmoor’s stellar success in the capital. “The thing we’re doing that’s unusual is running quite high-spend places that are also very casual. You can spend a lot of money if you want, but you won’t get any of that stilted formality.”
A Conference session on food trends meanwhile heard that UK diners are getting more switched on to street food and freshness. “Street food hits so many targets—It’s a very timely trend,” said writer and broadcaster Richard Johnson (see britishstreetfood.co.uk). Leon co-founder Henry Dimbleby and Planet Food consultancy founder Alec Howard said bricks and mortar restaurants could learn from the success of street food.
“The most successful street food operators learn how to do one thing exceptionally well, and that’s changed the way we think about our dishes and our innovation,” said Dimbleby. “The key lesson from the street food phenomenon is that as all the other issues you face increase, the focus can move away from food... we need to push that back up the agenda,” added Howard.
Rex Jones, international executive director at US-based Mexican concept Chipotle, revealed his company’s global plans, and said it would be steady at first in the UK (see presentation download right). “We want to make sure we get things right before we expand aggressively. We’re neophytes—we’re here to learn.” It would open “five to ten” restaurants here before thinking about expanding more aggressively, he said.
Kicking off the Conference was RBS UK economist Ross Walker, who warned that the economy would remain sluggish (see presentation download right). “2012 is going to feel very similar to 2011,” he warned. “It’s going to be a slog—we’re going to have another five or six years of this tight environment.”
But Conference co-chairs Peter Martin, CEO of Peach Factory and James Horler, chief executive of 3Sixty Restaurants, pointed out that pubs and restaurants were more buoyant than many businesses. “We know it’s difficult but we’re all still here—and it’s still a great industry,” said Horler. “People are still going out to eat and drink—there may not be much growth in the market, but it’s not fallen off a cliff either,” said Martin.
The 2020 Conference also saw the unveiling of the 2011 Peach Hero & Icon Awards. For coverage of the winners, click here and here.
The presentations from Ross Walker and Rex Jones can be downloaded here, click on icons right under 'Related Media'
Colin Tenwick's presentation can be viewed here: http://prezi.com
Rex Jones' Chipotle video can be view here: www.youtube.com
For more on Richard Johnson's Street Food awards, go to britishstreetfood.co.uk
OUR THANKS TO
Peach 2020 is run in partnership with Royal Bank of Scotland, Coca-Cola, Torex, Ecolab, Coffer Corporate Leisure and Livebookings.
It is also supported by Enotria World Wine, Fishbowl Marketing and Fourth Hospitality
For full coverage and photos of the 2020 Conference, see the next issue of Peach Report.
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