The Operator of the Year for Multi-Site Kitchen Projects, sponsored by True Refrigeration, reflects the fact that expansion is the name of the game for many multi-site foodservice operators and that managing the challenge in terms of implementing new kitchens is an art in itself.
This category recognises operators that have successfully managed significant site and kitchen roll-outs in the last 12 months.
We are delighted to announce that the 2019 shortlist includes the following operators:
Soaring demand from home and abroad has seen BrewDog launch more than 30 sites over the past 12 months. The company is on track to surpass 100 units this year and has clocked up a number of firsts of late, including its debut airside project at Edinburgh Airport and the launch of a branded hotel. Although the chain is rightly revered for its craft beers, food is a rapidly growing companion. As little as five years ago, food accounted for just 5% of sales – now it is closer to 30% across the board. Paring food with craft beer is a key part of what BrewDog does, and as such it has developed tightly-controlled menus that its kitchens can execute well.
With sales exceeding £1 billion for the first time in its history, Greggs has been one of the busiest multi-site operators when it comes to store growth. It registered 99 net openings last year, the equivalent of two every week, including a number of high-profile launches involving transport hubs. Nearly 40% of the estate is now based in travel, leisure and work-centred catchments. Greggs has spent more than £19m on fitting and equipping new shops and relocations over the past year, including kit to support its ambitions of becoming an all-day grab-and-go operator. Rising demand for quick meal solutions later in the day has seen it commence a roll-out of hot self-serve cabinets across the estate.
Continual assessment of consumer trends and preferences has enabled Marston’s to employ a more responsive approach to food and drink innovation as it has completed new projects across its 1,600-strong estate. Given its historic legacy as a classic brewery, the company has successfully developed a food-led offer that is driven by ongoing investment in energy efficient catering equipment and provenance-based menu development. A focus on speeding up customer service times, reducing fridge to table times and refining consistency over multiple sites has seen some notable work undertaken by its food development teams over the past year, fostering a culture where looking at kitchen tasks and processes in an innovative way to affect progressive change is encouraged.
Miller & Carter
With more than 100 Miller & Carter sites now trading in the UK, parent Mitchells & Butlers has stayed true to its word of doubling the steakhouse chain’s estate and investing in the brand’s back-of-house systems. The company has developed a proven operational template that can be adapted to any location and which contains an element of ‘future-proofing’ so that its kitchen platforms can handle menu changes without infrastructure having to be replaced. Ovens at each end of the cookline, ample space for pan work and the latest chargrilling technology are core elements of the design, while the equipment set-up also reflects the fact that a high level of fresh cooking is required to support the menu.
Pret A Manger
The British sandwich chain’s simple formula of freshly-prepared food served by highly engaged personnel continues to lay the foundations for solid unit and sales growth. More than 30 projects have been completed over the past year, ensuring its equipment and specification teams have been kept extremely busy. A focus on kit that is straightforward to operate, easy to clean and durable enough to be used constantly by kitchen staff throughout the day has been instrumental in ensuring that new stores hit the ground running. Meanwhile, the company’s branded ‘Veggie’ proposition has proved to be popular with customers. That has allowed Pret to roll out the concept to multiple locations in London as well as replicate it in Manchester.
The 2019 FEJ Awards ceremony and gala dinner takes place on Tuesday 4 June, the first evening of the Commercial Kitchen show, at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole.