Already a magnet for top buyers from across the casual dining sector, Casual Dining 2018 is expecting to see a record number of UK pub and bar operators among its attendees later this month; when doors open at the Business Design Centre in London on 21-22 February.
Event organiser Diversified UK says the number of pub and bar buyers at Casual Dining has swelled year on year (it was up 10% in 2017 and a massive 25% in 2016) – reflecting the growing importance of food sales as a crucial revenue stream for many.
Enterprise Inns, Punch Taverns, Mitchells & Butlers, JD Wetherspoon, Admiral Taverns, Marston’s, Greene King, and Stonegate Pub Company are among the big-name operators who have certainly taken advantage of changing consumer tastes and the rise of casual pub dining. They’ve been attending the show since its launch to source the latest food and drink innovations for their customers. And they’ll be back again for 2018.
“I’ve always loved the show,” says Yummy Pub Co’s Tim Foster, another repeat visitor (and 2018 speaker). “Getting up close and personal to existing suppliers for a natter, and finding new ones, is what has always excited me – and Casual Dining is the market leader.”
“I always recommend visiting Casual Dining,” agrees Andrew Jobes, head of food at Punch Taverns. “It provides a great opportunity to meet new and existing suppliers and catch up with others from across our industry.”
The 2018 pre-registered visitor list, to date, also includes key decision makers from Anglian Country Inns, Be At One, Bermondsey Pub Co, BrewDog Bars, Brewhouse & Kitchen, Cheshire Cat Pubs and Bars, Dirty Martini, ETM Group, Fuller, Smith & Turner, Glendola Leisure Group, Hall and Woodhouse, JW Lees & Co Brewers, Laine Pub Company, Malvern Inns, New World Trading Co, Nicholson’s Pubs, Novus Leisure, Oakman Inns, O’Neill’s, Peach Pubs, Pubs of Distinction, Redcomb Pubs, S.A. Brain & Co, The Deltic Group, Upham Pub Company, Whiting & Hammond, and Young’s Pubs, plus scores of smaller independent pub and bar owners.
Buyers looking to refresh their drinks menus will also have plenty to keep them busy, thanks to a 41% increase in alcohol exhibitors. Some of the world’s best-selling beer and cider brands are now confirmed, including Heineken UK – Blade, KBE Drinks (Kingfisher Beer Europe), Duvel Moortgat UK, Budweiser Budvar UK, Carlsberg UK, World Beers, and Molson Coors (whose portfolio includes Carling, Coors Light, Staropramen, Cobra, Grolsch, Doom Bar, Worthington’s, Caffrey’s, Singha, Rekorderlig and Aspall). While the show’s Craft Beer & Cider Pavilion and Artisan Spirits Lounge will feature around 25 speciality breweries and distilleries.
“Whether it’s in pubs, bars or restaurants – our growing appetite for a high quality, good value, food and drink offering has created huge opportunities for casual dining operators. And they’ll find plenty of inspiration, new ideas and world-class innovations at Casual Dining 2018,” says event manager Eva Ellis.
Casual Dining’s high-profile seminar line-up includes Keynote interviews with Chris Hill, CEO of New World Trading Company, and Paul Merrett, acclaimed chef director and owner at Jolly Fine Pub Group. Plus an exclusive opening day panel session examining the opportunities, trends and challenges ahead for casual dining pub operators. Hosted by Kate Nicholls, chief executive of The ALMR, panellists include Tim Foster, owner & head of being awesome at the Yummy Pub Co, Brian Keeley-Whiting, MD of Whiting & Hammond, and Alexander Salussolia, MD of Glendola Leisure Group.
“Casual dining has set the bar for customer expectations of food everywhere, but especially in pubs. For that reason any pub operator that sells food needs to know where the casual dining market is going,” explains Salussolia. After his visit last year, he called the show “a unique opportunity to discover products and trends completely relevant to our sector”.
Other speaker highlights – there are 18 sessions to choose from – include Keynotes from Nick Collins, CEO of Loungers, and Susan Chappell, divisional director/executive committee at Mitchells & Butlers (responsible for All Bar One, Browns, Nicholson’s and the Castle pub portfolio). While Chris Knights, group executive chef at Young’s & Geronimo Pubs, and Antony Bennett, head of food at Loungers, will be discussing multi-site pub menu innovation in a second day panel session; which also features Glenn Evans, head of food development at Las Iguanas, La Tasca and La Vina.
Informative, inspiring, innovative, and collaborative are just some of the words these speakers have used to describe the show. For them, like the thousands of visitors that regularly attend, it’s where the industry meets to do business.
“Casual Dining gets better every year and it keeps me up to speed with how innovation and trends are coming into the industry. It’s a must-attend event!” says Nolan Spratt, group head of pub operations at S.A Brain & Co.
Casual Dining returns to the Business Design Centre in London on 21-22 February 2018. The show’s full exhibitor list – available to view at www.casualdiningshow.co.uk/exhibitor-list – features over 200 leading industry suppliers offering everything from new food and drink products, catering equipment and tech, workwear, tableware, payment solutions and business services.