A fryer that doesn’t catch fire and condiment dispensers that help control costs are among the items that Tesco would love to see in its supermarket cafes.
Adam Martin, managing director of Tesco Hospitality, which is responsible for more than 470 in-store cafes, revealed his catering equipment “wish list” as he addressed suppliers at the recent CEDA Conference.
Speaking during a presentation on the investment that Tesco is making to improve its cafes, he said: “If the brains in the room are working on stuff, what do I hope you are working on? Well, I would really love someone to show me a deep fat fryer that doesn’t catch fire – that would be great; extraction systems that don’t require hundreds of thousands of pounds of expensive ducting; and something that dispenses jam butter so that we can control the costs on those. Those sorts of specific pieces of equipment would be absolutely wonderful.”
Mr Martin also joked that he would love “cutlery that doesn’t disappear”.
Tesco is currently in the process of a large-scale cafe refurbishment programme that will see a further 100 sites upgraded before the end of the year.
During his talk, Mr Martin also revealed the kind of equipment he doesn’t want: “Not another kitchen management system, please. There are so many of those,” he said. “And I am not sure I have seen the benefit of RFID-enabled anything yet. Really specialist pieces of equipment that do one thing very well are also problematic because adaptability is the key here rather than efficiency. We don’t know what we are going to be selling in three months’ time because tastes change that fast. Therefore having pieces of equipment that do one thing absolutely fantastically but end up gathering dust in six month’s time because you’ve taken them off the menu and you can’t do anything else is sadly wasted money.”
Ultimately, revealed Mr Martin, the objective of his specification team is to find equipment that will deliver a reliable, quality product, is easy for its labour force to operate and boosts productivity.
“Equipment plays a key part in our business,” he said. “It is about finding the product quality and the reliability, and using labour efficiently, but the agility of the equipment matters massively too.”