Casual Dining Group sees uplift after ‘reluctantly’ embracing food delivery

Las Iguanas

Restaurant powerhouse Casual Dining Group (CDG) believes the growth of food delivery will depend heavily on food type after “reluctantly” incorporating the model into its business.

The rapid emergence of third party delivery providers, such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats, has been one of the most prominent challenges facing restaurant chains over the last 18 months.

Martin Robinson, non-executive chairman of CDG, which runs 300 restaurants, admits the company initially had reservations about how to manage food delivery in its business but ultimately it has proved to be a good thing.

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“I think it is fair to say that we fairly reluctantly embraced it but now that we have embraced it I think I am glad that we did do,” he said. “The thing about delivery is that there are certain elements of common sense about it – the reason that traditionally Indian and Chinese food was always the stuff that you used to have delivered to your home was partly because it is quite difficult to cook. Most people can’t cook a very good chicken biryani and also that food type travels well, so it can sit on the back of a motorbike for 20 minutes and it still tastes ok. If you do the same thing, as unfortunately people are doing with, say, a burger or chips, it doesn’t taste so good.”

Mr Robinson was chairman of Wagamama when the restaurant food delivery model first took hold in the US several years ago. “That was also a type of food that travelled well and that people couldn’t easily cook at home. So I think that delivery market will continue to grow but it will grow the most strongly where the food type is appropriate to that delivery mechanic.”

It is for the same reasons that he says Latin America-themed chain Las Iguanas is the CDG brand likely to do most well from food delivery.

“Most people don’t have the ingredients that are required to cook that type of food at home and it does travel well, and we have done all the tests on it ourselves. Certain types of Bella Italia food travel quite well too. I personally think that with Cafe Rouge, would you actually order, through delivery, some sort of duck dish or whatever – I am not so sure about that to be honest.”

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