One of Pizza Express’ top UK executives believes it is vital for big chains to always have one eye on the new menu additions they have coming up when trying to select catering equipment that can expand with the business.
Jane Treasure, food and beverage director at the chain, said consistency is critical for a multi-site businesses, which creates a need for kit that achieves everything the brand requires and works across each branch irrespective of footprint.
Talking at this year’s Commercial Kitchen show, Mrs Treasure said that when specifying kit it is especially important to consider the knock-on impact of new introductions, particularly with more expensive items like ovens.
Choosing an inappropriate piece of equipment to roll out can lead to unintended consequences such as hitting capacities in the ovens or not having enough space, she warned.
“Really have a think when you bring in new ideas about the impact and knock-on effect on your core lines and making sure that the equipment is set up to support your growth. When your range gets bigger and bigger your customers expect to have choice, particularly with free-from, allergens, vegan and vegetarian.
“Make sure that the equipment can support that without overly-stressing the back-of-house and front-of-house, because it can get confusing, not least with the kit. I love putting new products on menus so I have to find the easiest route to get them to be delivered well.”
From a menu perspective, the product range that pizza operators want to offer customers can impact equipment choices to a greater extent than one might expect, given the food’s simplicity.
But product development does not have to be defined by what equipment you have at your fingertips, argued Mrs Treasure.
“You would always use a great piece of kit as much as you can. We’re not going to be selling microwave pizza because it’s quick because that would be crazy. You need to make sure you choose the right bit of kit but also be aware of the costs. When you’re spending £1,000 or £2,000 and you’ve got to times that by 400 or 500, you’ve got to be really mindful of the implications of what you’re spending, what it means for the staff, does the customer want it, can you afford it, what’s the payback? It’s not always as straightforward as just finding a plug.”