Potato grower mashes up casual dining sector by launching string of stores

Spudulike Albert Bartlett 1

Collapsed food-to-go retailer Spudulike is poised to spring back onto the high street after its brand, IP and operating rights were snapped up by one of the UK’s top family-owned potato producers.

Airdrie-headquartered Albert Bartlett has picked up the business in a deal that marks an unlikely entry into the casual dining and food-to-go sector having farmed potatoes since 1948.

The company is now rolling out a programme of re-openings, with a full relaunch of the brand planned for 2020 following investments in price and quality.

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It has picked up selected “top-performing” sites, which include Bridgend, Dartford, Glasgow, Leeds, Livingston, Manchester, Norwich and York.

The acquisition also sees the re-employment of more than 75 former Spudulike staff who were made redundant by the previous owners in August, including former operations director, Jonathan Hoodless.

An addition eight new jobs will be created in areas such as customer service and administration, the company said.

Richard Quinn, managing director – portfolio at Albert Bartlett, commented: “We’re extremely excited about the deal and the opportunity for Albert Bartlett to enhance its offer with a move into the ‘food-to-go’ sector. With Albert Bartlett’s heritage, vision and best-in-class potatoes, we’re uniquely placed to develop a future-forward offering that resonates with today’s consumers.

“As brand custodians we have the opportunity to revive an iconic British brand, which is a perfect fit within our business: it helps us communicate directly to consumers and champion this timeless, classic comfort food.”

Mr Quinn said the business was aware that it must take responsibility for re-energising the brand following the takeover.

“We have listened carefully to consumers and consequently have lowered prices and made a series of initial enhancements that reflect contemporary tastes and environmentally conscious food choices. We’re confident we have the potential to connect with the modern consumer, whilst retaining a loyal customer base.’’

Albert Bartlett has already revised Spudulike’s pricing structure while price reductions have been introduced on key products, with filled baked potatoes starting at £4.49.

Mr Quinn continued: “I firmly believe that combined with our commitment to sourcing and using better quality products, including the finest British potatoes from our portfolio, our pricing strategy is a recipe for success. We’ve gone back to basics and we have further, exciting plans for the brand which we will unveil in 2020.”

As part of the initial upgrade and re-opening programme, Albert Bartlett is introducing Spudulike customers to its own potatoes, a new dessert menu, barista-style coffee selection and environmentally-responsible ingredients such as dolphin-friendly tuna and sustainably-sourced prawns.

The company said it has also reviewed and improved packaging to introduce eco-friendly plant-based materials.

Spudulike becomes latest casualty to collapse amid casual dining crunch

Tags : potatoesSpudulike
Andrew Seymour

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