The growth of fast food chains and QSR concepts continues unabated, but as competition intensifies so too does the need for operators to get their production model absolutely spot on. One of the leading suppliers of equipment and maintenance services to this market is Jestic. Its managing director, Steve Loughton, discusses the crucial changes that are reshaping the way QSRs specify and design their kitchens.
What is your assessment of the fast food market in the UK, specifically with regards to the way that operators are planning or designing their kitchens?
From our assessments, the QSR and fast food market is continuing to grow year on year. With new chains springing up on the high street and brands emerging from across the Atlantic, the QSR and fast food market is an exciting and vibrant place to operate. In terms of trends in kitchen design and refit, we are noticing that there is an ever-greater focus on open plan and customer-facing kitchens within this sector.
With brands looking to be more open and honest with customers in order to dispel the myths of meals lacking quality and fresh ingredients, more and more businesses are moving to this type of kitchen design. This, combined with a widening food offering, is seeing those in the fast food and QSR sector place a substantial degree of emphasis on the design and layout of their kitchens across an entire estate.
What kind of trends are you seeing when it comes to the investments that QSR operators are making in their kitchens?
With a menu that continues to grow and diversify each year and a drive to make fast food and QSR dining a more upmarket, sit-down experience, operators are looking for equipment that not only takes up less space but also uses less people to operate and produces higher quantities to a consistent standard. Putting pressure on manufacturers to adapt and develop their current portfolio, this demand for new, more efficient equipment has seen the introduction of a whole host of new appliances and technologies in recent years.
Where we have found the size of some of the chains to be prohibitive is when we are looking to introduce additional equipment to a kitchen”
By their very nature, QSR chains are large organisations and typically operate tens and hundreds of units. How prohibitive is this to embracing and rolling out new equipment?
From our experience, the roll-out of new equipment is very simple in the fast food and QSR market, with operators keen to replace existing equipment with the latest, efficient or space-saving appliances in order to reduce ongoing costs and overheads across an estate. Where we have found the size of some of the chains to be prohibitive is when we are looking to introduce additional equipment to a kitchen. With limited space within a kitchen design, the inclusion of extra equipment is often not possible, until a complete redesign phase is introduced, a process that can take many years to achieve in this large sector.
Have you had any notable success stories with the fast food and QSR segment over the last year and, if so, what have been the highlights?
With a range of new brands and appliances entering the market in the past 12 months, Jestic continues to work closely with a number of the big, high-street brands to implement and roll out new equipment. A recent project with Bird restaurant chain in London has seen us introduce Henny Penny fryers and hot holding cabinets into all their locations, offering the consistency and capacity needed by the business on a footprint that enabled the kitchen team to maximise the space within their kitchen. In addition to this, we are currently working on detail and comprehensive trials with some of the national chains, looking at the effectiveness and cost-saving capabilities of the new models in our portfolio.