Leading QSR chain KFC has told FEJ it is taking a more “scientific” approach to catering equipment specification as it sets about introducing semi open-plan kitchens to its UK stores.
The 870-strong group recently unveiled a cutting-edge UK concept store in Bracknell, which it hopes will serve as a blueprint for future interior restaurant design.
The back-of-house section is central to that, with new semi open-plan kitchens allowing diners to see their food being prepared.
Operations innovation manager, Mark Baxter, who leads an eight-strong team responsible for developing KFC’s kitchens, said that in creating the set-up for the Bracknell store, it had completely reviewed the way it plans and fits its kitchens.
In the past, KFC has largely put its faith in long-term experience and measured judgement calls and while that approach certainly got results, the onus now is on a much more transparent course of action.
Baxter commented: “We are trying to move from it just being an experience-led decision-making process to one that is more scientific and fact-based. We have put in some math principles and engineering principles in terms of a capacity model and process flows so that we become a centre of excellence for making factually-based decisions on the efficiency of the lobby and kitchen.”
This new approach appears to be getting results, with the company demonstrating that it is able to achieve a capital saving of between 8% and 12% on equipment costs, and a 15% saving on space.
Baxter said that suppliers which KFC works with have embraced the transparency that the new methodology offers.
“It is about us being very clear about what we are trying to achieve and where the business is going and how we are going to support that,” he said. “Clearly there are going to be some bigger winners in that than others, but I think if we do things with the right kind of morals and act in the right kind of way, and are transparent in all of those processes, people will understand the decisions that are made. They might not like them but they should understand them.”
To read the full interview with Mark Baxter on KFC’s kitchen design and foodservice equipment strategy click here.