Comment: progress in the F&B industry
Change is always a good thing: whether it’s the rise of new styles of restaurants, or the introduction of previously untapped cuisines, or even new team members who can inject the business with a new sense of enthusiasm.
Over the last month or so, the conversations I have had with a number of F&B stalwarts have given me a sense of hope — change is afoot, on a number of different levels.
The first element of change has been around sustainability. While many restaurants and hotels have been individually ensuring that they work to reduce food waste, plastic waste, and more, it’s been amazing to see an industry-wide effort to combat plastic waste. The ‘#StopSucking’ campaign has been officially adopted by a number of F&B operators, with Freedom Pizza, Jumeirah Restaurant Group (JRG), and Gates Hospitality all publicly committing to the cause. I saw this in action when I visited a JRG restaurant recently (incognito!) — and geekily enough, it was a thrill to see the initiative in action.
Another call for change has been centred around the attitude in the sector towards home-grown and SME F&B enterprises. Admittedly, over the last few years we have seen a growing interest in this sub-sector of the industry, growing beyond the now established likes of the Okku’s of this world. Gates Hospitality CEO Naim Maadad said at the Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF) that investors are now “leaning towards home-grown because we have control, a lot more say and lot more involvement”. It is now, as he said, all about local heroes who understand the culture of the society we live and work in.
To this point, David Singleton, who is the area vice president EMEA/South Asia, franchise operations & development, Hard Rock Café, said on another day during GRIF: “There’s this emergence of cool entrepreneurs... they have grown up here, they know what's right for their own country so home-grown is key at the moment if you get it right.”
There is also the conversation around whether hotels can or cannot do F&B, and whether they should be leasing out spaces to independent operators. While I will leave this to the experts to battle it out, I have heard some cool news from Baker & Spice director of operations Andre Gerschel about how he’s planning to expand the brand in the region — with what he calls a ‘manchise’ strategy, where his brand will be operating all facets of some hotels’ F&B facilities. Curious to learn more about this? Head over to our YouTube channel to watch the interview where he reveals all.
I, for one, am really excited to see what the industry does next. Your move.