Newly-specified high-speed ovens and food merchandisers that have been installed in hundreds of Caffe Nero stores nationwide have provided the backbone for the biggest menu revamp in the coffee chain’s history.
The company’s new ‘Nero Deli’ offer features an array of carefully-crafted items, from open sandwiches with Italian-sourced ingredients and salad bowls that rotate through the seasons to inject colour to mini pizzas and pork and pancetta sausage rolls.
There are 14 new freshly-prepared product lines that can be served hot or cold, as well as a whole new line of vegetarian and vegan dishes and a range of sweet items, including chunky banana loaf, crumble cakes and brownies.
It is the culmination of many months’ work by UK head of food, Hannah McKay, and her food development team.
“There was so much that needed to be considered for this to become a reality,” she reflects. “What would the customer reaction be? Were they actually ready for a coffee shop to look at doing something like this? Did we have all the right suppliers? What equipment were we going to need to be able to actually deliver this in store? It was a complete step away from what we were doing, so we needed to look at what was the business case to make it a success.”
At the recent Lunch! show in London, Ms McKay revealed the first step it took last year was to open a pilot store where it put in a range of food and tested a variety of equipment.
Once it was happy with the working template, it rolled it into a further 20 trial stories around the country to assess potential operational challenges on a larger scale, test e-learning and training documents and ensure the equipment was up to the job.
“We needed to test new equipment — for example we had a new suite display where we installed glass screens to then unwrap our products and create a more abundant feel. We also invested in ovens to enable us to then unlock some NPD. We needed to train stores and see how they actually worked within a store.”
Specifying the right oven for the backbar was a vital part of the process, with the company selecting Panasonic’s Speed Convection Oven to support the new menu.
It can cook, toast, grill and reheat a wide range of food, including savoury products such as its sausage rolls.
Hundreds of units have now been rolled into stores and training has been delivered to for staff.
As well as heavy duty equipment, the chain also needed to test crockery.
“Up until recently we served a panini in a bowl which I really don’t think is a premium experience, so we needed to find the right crockery to enhance the food but also make sure that it fitted on a tray with a coffee cup. And we looked at lighting because lighting a display actually brings the whole thing alive,” she explained.
Caffe Nero operates 1,034 stores in 11 countries, including 667 in the UK. It employs more than 8,000 staff.