SCMC 2016 Report: Focus on food & beverage

Published:  14 April, 2016

Continuous innovation and a speedy service are key to a successful food and beverage provision in shopping centres, say experts in this field.

Jonathan Doughty, head of EMEA Foodservice Consulting at Coverpoint, a JLL company, was joined by a panel of guests, including Vida Tayebi, founder of Persian restaurant dindin kitchen, Jenny McPhee, brand and business development manager at The Alchemist, and Mark Robinson, property director at Ellandi, at the BCSC Shopping Centre Management Conference at the Brighton Hilton Metropole.

Doughty explained: “Innovation and trends tend to run quite close together. One of the big trends is as customers you get bored so quickly. As customers you go somewhere, you try it, you buy it, you like it and you move on so it’s about keeping you excited and innovated and engaged with what’s going on and that doesn’t necessarily follow in a world where you have the same tenants there for long periods of time. I think it’s fine so long as you have a core of your business that is the same but you need to dress around it more and more.”

And shorter leases are going a long way to help ensure a regular turnaround of food and beverage brands if needed.

Mark Robinson, property director at Ellandi, said: “The average length of a lease is coming down to five years and shopping centres are embracing that as we like change. One of the challenges is the amount of investment that goes into changing a shop into a restaurant and certain brands pay for our fit out and that costs £750,000. So when they are putting that sort of investment into a unit, as a landlord, we want the long lease commitment but as a tenant they want a long lease commitment as well. However what is right now, is right now. Many food chains have come and boomed and gone but we still have a Wimpy in Grays.”

Tavebi, who has a property background at DTZ, said she understands that customers get bored of the same offering and she saw an opportunity to bring street food into a different environment. “It’s about knowing your customers and plugging the gap there,” she said.

McPhee explained their molecular mixology cocktail bar has just sold its millionth cocktail at Trinity Leeds since opening three years ago. “You need to constantly recreate your menu and make sure you have new products for the customer,” she said. “So we have a core development team when it comes to our food and cocktail development and we make sure we are constantly updating our menus so we are the place customers want to go.”

As well as innovation, experience and service, McPhee stresses the need to be aware that customers these days are cash rich but time poor.

“Customers don’t have the time to wait to pay for the bill,” she said. “They want everything now. For me it’s about the Apps, mobile phones, allowing customers to pay without calling a server over and I think the text side as well because people don’t have time and they want to get in and out. So we need to engage with that but at the same time provide great service. So it’s getting that balance as well.”

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