Posts in Foodservice News
Pubs: what the future has in store

"The stories of pub closures paints a bleak picture, but the statistics suggest a brighter future."

The Restaurant Show was a great event yet again. There is something slightly mesmerising about watching chefs in full flow, and this was definitely the case during the Craft Guild Chef of the Year competition. It was fantastic to see Chef Kuba Winkowski crowned National Chef of the Year, and watch him receive a hearty congratulations from the runners up.

Away from the competition I had a look at the key themes from this year’s show. Notable mention being the rising popularity of Kombucha, it’s absolutely everywhere! However, what really struck a chord was the news from the dining sector.


Is pub culture dying?

MCA looked into how pubs are performing in the current market compared to restaurants. The stories of pub closures paints a bleak picture, supported by the growing fear that the high street is becoming redundant to the modern shopper with rates, Brexit-induced staff shortages, and rising food costs taking its toll on the dining sector.

However, the statistics paint a healthier picture. Pub turnover is up 2.7%, which shows the end of the decline in the market. Furthermore, visits for the casual dining sector are up by 7% for the year ending June 2018.

7% represents an extra 35 million visits to British casual dining restaurants compared with the previous year.


What changed?

Wet led pubs are the answer, for now (but we will touch more on that later). Drinks-based venues are driving growth within in the market. They are doing this by focussing on quality over quantity, with consumers happy to pay for something more premium.

In order to beat the competition of restaurants, MCA has seen that pubs focussed on being family friendly and good value for money are edging ahead of restaurants, although they still are more successful overall.

MCA research shows that lunch and dinner visits have increased in the younger demographic, which suggest that pubs are adapting to accommodate the next generation’s needs in order to stay current. A key factor in continual growth throughout the market.


How to stay ahead of the curve?

Despite wet led pubs seeing a resurgence in the pub industry, 24% of consumers are trying to consume less alcohol and 5% are cutting alcohol completely.

This shows that the industry is changing, and fast. In order for the growth of pubs in the market to continue, they need to continue to develop as well.


What will be the next innovation?

That is the million dollar question. Almost half (40%) of 25-to-37 year olds prefer ordering food on their phones to table service (according to a report taken out by McCain). Will we see fully tech integrated pubs lead the way in the future? It may not match the feel and décor of an old-school country pub, but in bars and pubs pushing for a younger demographic, this could work well.

What we can see is now that the pub market has turned positive, it shows no sign of slowing down. By 2023 we will see a positive number of pubs compared with what is expected, showing the end of pub closures for the foreseeable future. Great news all round.

Protein: Is there a more powerful word today?


I don’t know what you’re up to while you’re reading this. To be honest, it would be weird if I did. But, if you’re having a bite to eat, some yoghurt for breakfast, a salad at lunch, or a quick snack, take a look at the packaging. There’s one word that’s probably big, bright and bold on the packet: protein.

And that’s no surprise. It’s one of the most powerful words in food today. And importantly, a very profitable word at that.

Over the last few months, we’ve noticed more and more brands, across retail and foodservice, are shouting about the amount of protein in their food. The question is, why? And should you be doing more to shout about the P word?



Protein isn’t new. We all know it’s an integral part of a healthy, balanced diet. But in recent years, more and more people are looking to increase their protein levels, and embark on high-protein diets. 

One part of this is health. As more Protein is key to rebuild muscle after exercise. With healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle more popular than ever, it’s no surprise that protein has become even more vital. Whether it’s to repair muscle or just to keep a diet balanced, people clearly care more about it, and are looking for it in every meal.

But, are people getting their protein fix from food or from something different?



Much like all those protein-powered lifters at your local gym, the supplement market has grown a heck of a lot in the last decade. In 2007, the market was worth £73m in the UK. Last year, that reached £358m[1]. For anyone wondering, that’s close to a 400% increase.

While they are very popular, there are a whole lot of reports looking at the potential health issues of supplements[2]. The jury’s still out on all of this, but one thing’s clear: there’s a lot of profit up for grabs in protein. So it’s no surprise food is trying to grab some of the audience.



The UK has seen a huge increase in demand to satisfy consumers’ protein cravings. To reach this audience, being loud and protein proud on your packaging is a clear tactic. From the 10g somehow squeezed into a snack bar, to the 5g elegantly placed into a smoothie, it’s always a number to shout about.

Away from the shops, get clever with your menus. Highlight how much protein is in each meal, or better yet have a dedicated menu. Healthy eating is a trend that won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, so you’ll get a lot of usage out of those menus.

For a perfect double-header, get your protein profits from plant-based products (try saying that five times quickly). Flexitarians are everywhere, and just like protein sales, that number keeps on growing. People may not want the meat, but they still want to meet their protein daily quota. Plant-based products are the solution.

So, if you’re not shouting about protein yet, now’s the time. This is a trend that’s going nowhere soon. 



Coal drops year: A template for the future of retail?

"The new shopping district is the biggest development in central London for more than 150 years."

Morty & Bob’s is the latest Instafamous restaurant to join Coal Drops Yard when it opens this autumn. It’s part of an already starry line-up of eateries, including Barrafina, Casa Pastor and The Drop, all of which are set to open in the new King’s Cross development on 26th October 2018.

The new shopping district is the biggest development in central London for more than 150 years. It forms part of the King’s Cross regeneration plan which, once complete, will be home to 50 new buildings, 1,900 new homes, 20 new streets, 10 public parks and squares and 26 acres of open space. It’s so beefy it’s even got its own postcode.

With constant news headlines about the death of the high street, is Coal Drops just what the UK retail scene needs? With the aim of becoming a neighbourhood amid an era of generic townscapes, it’s a scheme that – if it proves a success – could provide a template for urban retail for decades to come.

Here’s why.


The mix of sweeping modern curves, concrete and historic architecture designed by hip Heatherwick studio and realised by developer Argent is taking its final shape and is nearly 75% leased. The location of every retail unit has been cleverly determined. Michelin-starred French chef Alain Ducasse’s café and shop, Le Chocolat, is near the entrance, so the smell of warm chocolate wafts along the canal, drawing people in viscerally.


Even the hoardings around the development and its head office are discreetly labelled. It’s the antithesis to Westfield’s near-generic blueprints, which feature mostly indoor shopping spaces.


As well as homes, offices and education (Central Saint Martins is just next door in Granary Square), its village-like layout has plenty of opportunities for outdoor events based around music and culture. Public areas and wow factor brand concept spaces act as a conduit for engaging with young trendsetters and tastemakers that can’t necessarily shop at this stage, but are future spenders.


Like a petri dish for the evolving retail sector, Coal Drops packs in a wide variety of shops, from global names like Samsung and Paul Smith, through to artisanal brands like eyewear label Cubitts, eco-luxe accessories company Lost Property London and cult homewares designer Tom Dixon. Concept-led stores offer everything from pencils and candles up to lighting and furniture. After all, shoppers rarely stick to one price point nowadays.


Several collectives in Lower Stable Street, which comprises smaller units, will be given over to smaller retailers and collectives, many of which will undertake events like product-making workshops with local schools. There’s also specific space for service-based tenants in the grooming and beauty world such as barbershops, beauty salons and a tattoo joint.


With the halo effect of the commercial-institutional heavyweights set to open, Coal Drops could be registering a potential spending power of approximately £1.6bn per year – if it can deliver the concept authentically. With only three months to go, we don’t have to wait long to see if a retail scheme 160 years in the making will succeed where other high streets have failed.