Industry heavyweights lined up for Lunch! speaking slots

Lunch! hall shot

Rod McKie, CEO of Welcome Break, Caroline Cromar, group director of food at Pret A Manger, and Vincent McKevitt, MD of Tossed, are among the first big-name speakers to be confirmed for this year’s lunch! food-to-go trade show. 

Returning to the Business Design Centre in London on 21-22 September 2016, the event will feature more than 20 free business seminars – including exclusive keynotes, interviews, research and panel discussions – in two dedicated theatres.

Pret’s Caroline Cromar will be appearing in an exclusive interview hosted by CGA Peach’s VP Peter Martin, where she will be sharing her specialist knowledge and insights from more than 10 years working at the heart of Pret’s management team.

Welcome Break’s CEO Rod McKie is also likely to be mentioning Pret as his firm has just struck a deal that will see the sandwich chain make its service station debut with his group. It also has existing franchises with the likes of Starbucks, Subway and Waitrose at its 27 UK sites and McKie is set to elaborate on the challenge of positioning high street brands for motorway travellers.

“I think it is more appropriate than ever that we have an opportunity to attend ‘lunch!’, as lunch itself is just becoming an amazing dynamic entity in its own right,” said McKie. “People’s eating and drinking habits are evolving so rapidly that it is important to understand the needs and wants of our customers and the speed at which they are changing.”

McKie is widely credited with transforming the Welcome Break business since he took over the helm in 2001. His illustrious CV includes former MD of Coffee Republic, where he was responsible for taking the brand from 16 units to over 90 in just three years, and, prior to that, four years as Pret’s operations director.

Tossed MD, Vincent McKevitt, meanwhile, will be discussing how the healthy fast food chain recently became the first chain to offer a completely cashless (and till-less) restaurant in Europe.

He’ll outline the streamlined concept behind the custom-built tablet software now in use at several of its London branches, and its plans for rolling out self-service kiosks across the rest of its 26 stores.

Organisers of the show also revealed that Rory McEntee, head of retail marketing at Benugo, will be giving a keynote exploring how it retains individuality across the portfolio, and the challenge it faces as the business grows and strategy evolves.

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