Mike Faers
Founder, F!S Group

Mike has a huge amount of experience from the kitchens of Le Gavroche to heading up Product for McDonald’s Europe and then globally. Mike left his role at McDonalds to start FIS in 2010. Having run and established manufacturing plants, innovation academies and worked extensively with all of the UK’s major retailers, Mike offers strategic planning, troubleshooting and innovation best practise to FIS clients, using decades of expertise to ensure that businesses operate efficiently and innovate brilliantly

Karl Hodgson
Global Sales Director, Adande Refrigeration.

Karl’s contribution to hospitality has spanned some 35 years where he has worked with a variety of food service operators and manufacturers. Now, having been part of the Adande Refrigeration team for almost 12 years he advises global clients on refrigeration and how to maximise company margins through using Adande equipment.

David Vagg
Director, Assured Quality Solutions Ltd.

David Vagg has worked in the food sector for over 30 years. With a key focus on fresh and chilled ingredients he has in depth knowledge of the organoleptic, quality and safety parameters for a wide range of fresh and chilled ingredients.
Assured Quality Solutions Ltd. is a Food quality, safety and innovation consultancy.

With the COVID-19 virus curtailing the usual day-to-day, and keeping us indoors our behaviours have had to adapt. We’ve accelerated towards a cashless society, shopped everything online and seen the demand for food take-away and delivery rocket.

For operators like McDonald’s, KFC and Domino’s Pizza, this has played to their strengths, whilst for others a take-away/delivery service has been a vital lifeline, an overnight revenue stream. Some companies have partnered with delivery services such as Uber Eat, Deliveroo, and Just-Eat whilst others have licensed their brands to operators running ‘Dark Kitchens’.

Here, we catch up with industry experts Mike Faers; CEO at FIS Group, David Vagg Director of foodservice consultancy Assured Quality Solutions together with Adande’s Global Sales Director Karl Hodgson, who together share their views on the increase in takeaway and meal delivery.

Hello all, What impact has the pandemic had on takeaway food and/or delivery?

Mike: After many years of creating concepts and consulting on dark takeaway and delivery brands for Wagamama, Dominoes, uber eats, deliveroo, TRG, foodstars and Taster to name but a few, at FIS Group we went onto create and launch our own delivery brands to both operate and potentially franchise. This gives us a unique view of this sector as both consultants and operators.

Put simply, the pandemic has caused a seismic shift in our industry and in particular to delivery, this in turn has impacted the high street and accelerated the trend we have been seeing for the last decade, namely a shift to the “I want what I want when I want it” generation who are quite comfortable ordering take away and delivery 3 times a week. Further enabled with the rise of the tech platforms (deliveroo, Ubereats, just eat) and the circle is complete.

This means we have seen a significant increase in the number of start-up entrepreneurial brands which makes sense as the cost of market entry is now much lower, however the number of competitors has also increased so you need to get it right to both thrive and survive.

David: 2017-2020 had seen almost 40% growth in delivery sales.  Many struggling high street venues along with other retailers had seen a significant benefit from having a delivery option, where most were happy with around 10% of delivery sales.  The pandemic has dramatically changed this.  Takeaway and delivery are now the life blood of restaurants, big and small, the length and breadth of the country.  Whilst there will be some claw-back post pandemic, it is very clear this drive to more delivery will continue.  The UK, whilst a big European delivery market, is significantly smaller per capita than others such as the USA and China.  Delivery fits with the way many people now lead their lives – it is a lifestyle choice. In many cases customers spend more on their delivery order and will order additional items – so there is a clear reason to get it right.

Karl: To put it into perspective, the spend in takeaway for the UK in 2007 was 7.4 Billion and 2021 11.2 Billion – up 9.1% on 2019.  I feel the acceleration will slow though once some kind of normality returns, and we can go out to eat again. We are social beings, we like going out and socialising. The desire to meet with friends and eat out I don’t think has changed.

What are the considerations a business should make when setting up and operating a take-away or delivery service?

Mike: As for any new business you need to do the correct diligence, namely:

  • Understand your customers needs and wants
  • Competition and typical pricing strategy – what’s going to be the 1 reason customers buy from you
  • Brand marketing and Promotional support
  • Menu design and supply chain creation to drive consistency and deliver your promised customer experience
  • Operational excellence and kitchen design is fundamentally important to make it successful

David: The number one consideration is ensuring the customer receives the hot fresh food they are expecting.  80% of customers receiving poor quality or cold food will blame the restaurant.  Once it is out for delivery it won’t get any hotter or fresher.  Having the right ingredients in the right place, at the right time and at the right temperature is critical to ensure food leaving the restaurant is as hot and fresh as possible.  In many cases the delivery option is a separate area or part of the business and scheduling of staff to meet the specifics needs of the delivery customer is essential.

Karl: Operationally, your kitchen flow has to work. You need the staff in the right place at the right time, reaching for what they need without having to leave their stations. Our fridges are second-to-none when it comes to offering bulk storage right where you need it and giving you a worktop to prep on. They are invaluable on those aspects alone if you are looking to run a takeaway.  Fast food, after all should be fast. That pleases the end customer and can increase an operator’s profits.

Large QSRs are also now offering delivery service, how have they had to adapt? What are the key operational aspects that make them successful? Has kitchen equipment played a role?

Mike: QSR’s are generally set up very well to work a delivery service.  They are used to serving customers quickly and accurately with drive-thrus, and with delivery and collection already in their portfolio they are ahead of the curve vs high street operators.

Equipment is important, the procurement lenses of selection are: speed – capacity – durability – total cost of ownership and of course SPACE. It has required some additional thinking around hot holding and work flows to optimise operations.  

David: Many QSR’s have focused on 3 key areas – dine in, takeaway and drive-thru.  In recent years this has expanded to include delivery.  Management of the delivery process is crucial.  Scheduling for delivery is a key part of the business, not as an add on, it is the first step to success.  Having the right equipment to assist in delivering the right food at the right time and meet the expected temperature and quality parameters.  Equipment must help ensure hot is hot and cold is cold. Having the right storage capacity at the point of preparation which assists this and allows staff to focus on preparation rather than constantly restocking their work station assists in this.

Karl: Large QSRs have seen their revenues grow, thanks to delivery.  This means outlets have had to be able to cope with the speed and pace of orders coming in. The QSRs I work with are hugely disciplined. We’ve been able to help them with that, by providing refrigeration that enables their staff to stay at their stations so they can deliver what they need to, quickly. In addition, our fridges are praised for being efficient, reliable, easy to access and operate. This is essential in a busy and often 24hr operation it allows revenues to grow whilst keeping operating costs low and increases profitability.

With such pressure on businesses currently, can firms who run take-aways or delivery services expect to be successful and make a profit?  Will they continue to provide take-away and delivery after COVID-19?

Mike: It is always a challenge to make profits in our industry but the good news is you can – re pandemic it was already a key part of an operators strategy and will continue to be so, post pandemic however we will likely see a high street resurgence as we all celebrate being allowed back out to socialise but then it will settle back and we will see some operators drop out of the market.

David: COVID-19 has made operators focus on delivery – it is no longer a bolt-on but an integral part of today’s world.  With the right attention to detail, it can be a profitable business – whether standalone or integrated into the broader business model.  In my opinion, the vast majority of operators will continue to run and grow their delivery option post COVID-19.

Karl: Delivery charges make up 20-30% of the take-out order. This effects operator margins greatly. The pressure on the front end of a business means that venues need to ensure every other area of the operation is running efficiently. Firstly, everyone should buy-smart when purchasing kitchen equipment, what looks like a great deal initially, needs to be reviewed together with the running cost, and lifetime cost of the equipment. I hate to see venues that have bought what looks like ‘great value’ fridges only to find they are paying a fortune in electricity costs, or don’t get a stable temperature and are having to throw food away. Lower running costs and less waste keep profit margins intact.  



What key things does an operator have to bear in mind when it comes to maximising efficiency and minimising cost, is this the same when starting a take away and/or delivery service?

Mike: The key to this is a well-designed menu and supply chain linked to a great kitchen design that enables delivery. You can’t think of this in the same way as you would when designing a restaurant kitchen – it’s a different thought process and consequently the equipment needs to be flexible for example Adande drawer units which we use as they are so versatile – dual opening drawers {matchbox} allowing stocking without disruption – they hold temperature whereas door fridges lose temperature too quickly – flexibility to be a fridge or freezer or even blast chiller – waste management is also key.

David: Reducing Waste – whether food, time or energy – is critical to all foodservice companies.  Ensuring correct staffing levels to meet demand is essential – too few staff and orders are delayed, delivered cold and poor customer experience achieved.  Having the right food, in the right place, at the right temperature ensures customers receive the right product and the right equipment and management of ingredients will reduce wastage of food and energy. The Adande drawer system supports these objectives – by maintaining a stable temperature – wastage is reduced.  The design allows for multiple ingredients to be stored at the point of use in the kitchen – improving productivity and reducing waste.

Karl: Yes, the main consideration is efficiency. Footprint efficiency. Having the correct kitchen equipment in the right area saves time and money. Adande drawers give you greater capacity in a smaller footprint. The fact you are able to control the temperature of our fridges to within 1 degree, from +15 ◦C to -22◦C at a touch of a button adds real value, you can preserve your produce if you don’t use it all. In addition, drawers that hold 86L of product, keeps your need to restock at a minimum, no other drawer holds so much in the same footprint. Adande drawers are of real value to busy restaurants, takeaways and QSRs saving them money and allowing maximum sales for the restaurant footprint.

What refrigeration equipment should operators be looking for, to aid their efficiency goals?

Mike: You need to have large storage feeding service storage at point of cooking – one feeding the other.

David: 3 key measures: Energy usage, Productivity and Waste need to be considered.  Equipment which aids the delivery of high-quality safe food whilst positively impacting these 3 keys measures is essential to deliver a successful delivery option.  Low energy usage refrigeration, which maintains a steady and consistent air and product temperature will assist in delivering higher quality, safer food and with lower waste.  Equipment which can be truly fully utilised at the point of preparation will improve productivity and ensure orders are met on time and in full.

Karl: Refrigeration needs to be efficient, reliable, easy to access and operate, with a small footprint. If you care about food and it’s holding condition, then temperature stability is key as temperatures can fluctuate, especially in small areas, where the heat is more intense. By having Adande insulated drawer systems the cold air stays in the drawer with the food thus keeping the food at the correct temperature ensuring a quality product every time. Oxidised meat is a direct result of not being held in a stable environment. This impacts the cooking process and the meat will yield you less product, a smaller burger for instance. Ultimately this impacts taste, quality and an operator’s bottom line. 

How do Adande drawers assist in design and operation of delivery /take-aways and Dark Kitchens?

Mike: SPEED SPACE AND SAFETY are 3 key reasons but fundamentally durability and cost of ownership is also a positive reason – you can’t have equipment failure and temperature control is a food safety risk – but the key reason is speed and having what you need right by your side. Its quicker to open a drawer than a door, slide out a gastronorm and close it again. Plus, for dark kitchens if you are operating multiple brands using Adande drawers makes perfect sense when you have the fridge and freezer flexibility.

David: Adande drawers deliver extremely consistent temperatures and have extremely low energy usage.  Maintaining the correct, consistent temperature is a fundamental of the Adande technology.  This helps reduce waste and ensures maintenance of high-quality safe ingredients.  The Adande drawers provide refrigeration at the point of need – with the work station located on top of the drawers.  This delivers the right ingredients in the right place at the right time.

Karl: Adande units are unique and assist every delivery operator. Don’t be confused by similar claims from others. As we say, Professionals in the Know Choose Adande. It’s also worth mentioning we offer a Chefbase fridge that comes with a heatshield top, as standard. This is fire-resistant to 200◦c and is perfect for operating under grills and firepits etc, again it’s unique in our industry and popular amongst operators maximising space.

What are equipment manufacturers doing to help the hospitality industry?

Mike: We are doing everything we can to help our clients and the industry right now and FIS have opened up regular clinics to give free consultations and I know from our discussions the industry is flexing as much as possible to keep us all working and surviving together until we can return to more normal times.

Karl: I think we are all pulling together to help the industry. Adande has extended its UK warranty to 5-years in order that we help keep venues on-going operational costs down. We’ve also introduced our EasyBuy scheme, where operators can buy equipment, financed over a term to suit them. Plus, we have frozen our prices until June 2021.

Thank you to Mike, David and Karl for their contributions to this article.

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