Tayub Mushtaq used to be a customer of natural fast food chain Wrap It Up! when he worked as a stockbroker in London. He loved the concept so much that he jumped at the chance of becoming the brand’s first franchisee in 2010 before taking over as MD two years later following an MBO. FEJ finds out how a state-of-the-art production kitchen in Stratford — on track for completion in May — is set to support his vision for more than 100 stores.
That is the current store structure and stategy for the UK?
We have got 12 sites at the moment. Six are company-owned and six are franchised. At least four or five franchise stores are lined up to open this year along with another three or four company stores, but over the next three years we anticipate at least 17 to 20 new sites. We are entering quite an important period of expansion. All of this ties into the new centralised production kitchen we are opening in Stratford. It will allow us to provide for up to 100 sites and serve as the backbone of our business.
What is the kitchen set-up at the moment?
All the food is prepared and finished off in front of the customer in every store. We currently have a central kitchen in London that cooks food every day and transports it daily to our stores to serve. The food is all centrally controlled from a quality perspective, so we know that every store sells exactly the same item and has exactly the same equipment.
What sort of foodservice equipment is required to make each store operational?
We obviously have a lot of refrigeration to store the food, we use Alto-Shaam cook and hold ovens to regenerate the food and then we rely on equipment like hot cupboards, bain-maries, contact grills and bespoke fabricated counter units. There is a big investment in equipment in each store — some of these Alto-Shaams are £5,000 or £6,000 for a small oven. We use Foster for all our refrigeration, Frost Tech for all our dairy decks and display decks and Faba for all our contact grills. A lot of grills on the market don’t hold a full 12-inch flour tortilla flat and they are ribbed and too heavy duty. Faba is an Italian-made ceramic grill that is lightweight and industrial, which is perfect for what we do. All our fabrication counters are bespoke made by a company called Ambit Stainless. We use them through Rees Associates, which works closely with all our shops and is project managing the new CPU.
What’s the motivation for the CPU?
Our existing kitchen doesn’t have the capacity to cook for our current set-up let alone for the increased number of stores that we are developing. Last November we bought the freehold for a 5,000 square foot commercial premises that used to be a meat factory last and we are extending the front of it. It has been completely gutted and we have taken out 122 tonnes of rubbish from it — it has cost us £30,000 just in waste disposal! We are getting a whole new roof put on that and new flooring top to bottom. With the equipment as well, the investment is worth £1.5m.
What sort of equipment are you planning to use in the new central production kitchen?
The kit is all top-end. We are going for Irinox blast chillers — Irinox only do blast chilling equipment and each blast chiller is £45,000 to £50,000. We are going for Rational combi ovens for cooking as well as Frima for its VarioCooking Centers. Potentially we are looking at Foster and Williams on all our refrigeration, our cold rooms, despatch rooms and freezer rooms. We’re putting down polyurethane resin floors and that alone is £40,000 to £50,000. There is a lot of capital being invested into the central kitchen but ultimately it allows us to scale up and build for the future. A year’s planning has gone into this kitchen.
In the new kitchen we’ll have two 20-grid Rational trolleys going into two chillers holding up to 80 trays. So you’re talking about going from 10 trays to 80 — that’s eight times the volume”
How does the new kitchen compare to the existing set-up?
Put it this way, it will allow us to produce the same product that we do at the moment with 30% of the labour. At the moment we cook over seven days for our 12 stores, but with the new kitchen that would be two days. Everything is scaled up dramatically. Our chilling capacity at the moment is 10 trays in a blast chiller. In the new kitchen we’ll have two 20-grid Rational trolleys going into two chillers holding up to 80 trays. So you’re talking about going from 10 trays to 80 — that’s eight times the volume. The bigger liquid foods that we do on a gas burner, such as minced beef, rice, chick peas, black beans and pumpkin will be done in the Frima. At the moment it is taking us four hours to cook around 60kg of minced beef in a big pot with four burners. In the Frima we can cook all that in 25 minutes. It is much more efficient, consistent and, most importantly, my labour costs will come down by about 60% to 70%.
What does that equate to in terms of man hours?
About 400 man hours go into our kitchen at the moment. That’s cooking, prepping, slicing, dicing, marinating, sealing, bagging, despatching and delivering. I’d say all that will be narrowed down to around 150 hours.
5 key pieces of kit
Five items of critical equipment from Wrap It Up’s store kitchens and new CPU in Stratford.
1) Irinox blast chillers
2) Frima multifunctional cooking systems
3) Alto-Shaam cook and hold ovens
4) Faba contact grills
5) Rational combi ovens
Brand braced for Manchester move
Wrap It Up!’s 12 sites are all based in London, but this month marks the launch of its first site outside the capital. It has struck an agreement with a franchisee for a restaurant in Manchester, which managing director, Tayub Mushtaq, hopes will pave the way for further regional growth.
“If Manchester goes to plan and it meets or exceeds our expectations then we have pretty much got a business model that we can roll out across the UK,” he comments. “Brighton, Bristol, Bournemouth, Scotland, Newcastle, Leeds, Coventry — wherever the enquiries are coming from we can go.”
Trading name: Wrap It Up!
Parent name: World Gourmet Restaurants Ltd
Offer: Gourmet wraps inspired by food from around the world
Target stores: 100
Location: London, but has ambitions for other UK cities
Annual sales growth: 48%
Annual profit: £250,000