What is the biggest factor currently affecting the B&I market

We see the major challenges for B&I falling into three distinct areas; consolidation and its impacts, broader economic uncertainty and changing eating habits.

Consolidation

We have seen a lot of consolidation within the B&I marketplace which could have an impact on innovation and differentiation for those businesses involved.

We believe that, as a smaller independent business, we are well placed to adapt and innovate quickly and sustainably – this is crucial if we are to collectively weather the economic storms which could hit us shortly.

Its is really important for any sector to have smaller independent players driving change and innovation. We pride ourselves on the fact that, as a smaller company, our people have have an impact on the whole business far quicker than larger companies. They also have direct access to owners and the board. This helps drive an entrepreneurial ethos.

In addition, as an independent, we are able to support small artisan food suppliers rather than being tied to the big producers. The industry will need this flexibility to enable it to flourish.

Economic uncertainty

For us, it’s important to take a long-term view of business. This includes preparing for any unexpected shifts in the economy.

The uncertainty in the broader landscape means that our industry needs to continue to evolve to ensure that we are able to tackle the challenges posed by Brexit, inflation and other issues which may just be around the corner.

However, we are also very aware that the potential challenge in the labour pool could have serious implications for our industry. It is crucial for all hospitality providers to continue to push on with recruitment and retention initiatives which can really reinforce the positive messages around our industry.

Change in eating habits

Our research suggests that we are seeing an increase in the change in consumer dining habits, where people are moving more towards eating little and often, and moving away from a substantial mid day meal.

As foodies, we are obviously able to adapt our menus and food options, however, legacy catering equipment can sometimes be a challenge. Our agile approach and innovative teams know how to find alternative solutions.

Equipment technology never stands still and we work with a number of specialist design partners who support us in staying ahead of the competition. Flexibility is almost always a key focus in designing new cafes, restaurants and kitchens. This flexibility allows us to release valuable space back to our clients to utilise for their own business needs.

Flexibility is going to be very important during some potentially challenging time.

All that said, our industry has weathered many a storm and this too will pass. We are robust and adept at flexing our models and finding innovative solutions which will not only help our clients and customers, but our industry will continue to protect and enhance the development of the overall UK economy. We’ve been here before, and we will be here again.

This article first appeared in b&i catering magazine. The full article can be read here