Greggs chief to keynote as big buyers flock to show

Roger Whiteside, CEO

The CEO of sandwich chain Greggs, one of the largest foodservice multiples in the UK, has been confirmed as a keynote speaker for the lunch! exhibition taking place later this year.

Roger Whiteside has agreed to take part in an exclusive Q&A session in which he will discuss his experience of the industry and the growth of Greggs’ food-to-go business.

Whiteside is a former chief executive of Punch Taverns and the Thresher Group, and was one of the founding team of Ocado. He will share insights from a long and impressive career, which saw him start out at Marks & Spencer, where he spent 20 years and became head of its food business, before joining Greggs and re-positioning it as a major player in the healthy food-to-go market.

News of the keynote comes as organisers of the show announced that a string of leading buyers from the country’s top foodservice businesses have confirmed their attendance. They say that buyers from EAT, Tesco, Waitrose, Superdrug, British Airways, IKEA, Brakes, Elior, Baxterstorey, Sodexo, and Gate Retail Onboard have already pre-registered.

Lunch!, which is now in its eighth year, takes place at the Business Design Centre in London on 24-25 September.

Organisers claim the show’s focus on innovation has made it a popular choice with buying teams from many of the country’s biggest food-to-go operators, including supermarkets, multiples, contract caterers, wholesalers, distributors, travel caterers, cafés, coffee shops, and sandwich shops.

This year’s show is expected to be the biggest yet following a 44% increase in attendees over the last two years. Some 6,500 buyers are expected through the doors while stand space has been increased by 25% to accommodate more than 350 exhibitors.

“Once again, the high demand for stand space at the show reflects the ever growing popularity of the food-to-go sector,” stated group event director Chris Brazier.

“Rebooking for lunch! 2015 smashed all previous records, leading to the show’s ground floor selling out in December, followed by the Middle Level in January, and the Innovation Zone in February. Even with the addition of a new hall, the show is on track to be sold out within a matter of weeks.”

The full ‘Working lunch!’ theatre programme will be unveiled over the next few months, with senior directors from EAT, Pret A Manger, M&S, Subway and Starbucks set to be announced.

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