It's true. Britain has fallen foul of the dreaded double dip recession. But there's an old adage that suggests it is exactly this sort of challenging economic climate that sorts the wheat from the chaff.
Operators need to think creatively and strategically, not just to keep heads above water but to ride the crest of the wave, because growth is still very much achievable.
Much has been said about the ubiquity of the discount culture and the debate surrounding it rages on. Does ongoing discounting ultimately devalue a brand and destroy a business? And once caught in a web of perpetual offers, is it possible to wean your customers off them?
Industry leaders gathered last week at the Allegra food strategy to discuss exactly that (Target your discounts to mine customer data and win loyalty) and there was general agreement that a savvy approach to discounting could do much to not only drive revenue but command customer loyalty, too.
But while today's typical consumer is increasingly motivated by their quest for value, it mustn't be forgotten that their appetite for experience is in no way diminished - something that the forward-thinking contract caterer is keen to exploit.
One way that they're doing that is by embracing the street food movement (Workplace catering - a taste of the street). We look at the ways in which contract caterers can deliver the experience in order to keep lunch money in the staff restaurant till rather than that of their high-street rivals.
But while caterers are well-placed to create a new and varied food offer, it's crucial that they achieve authenticity. Street food these days is less about fried onions and questionable hot dogs but more a myriad of multinational cuisines all vying to tantalise the taste buds of the lunchtime crowds.
So while trading continues to be tough, a classic combination of great product and intelligent marketing will ensure your business is well-placed when the good times roll again.
By Janie Manzoori-Stamford
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