Arena Summer Event 2019

9.30am - 3.30pm, Friday 19 July

Agility is an important ingredient for successful business in the ever competitive and changing hospitality industry. The Arena Summer Event, which took guests to the unique venue 30 Euston Square, explored how foodservice and hospitality operators have continually evolved to stay ahead of the game and remain relevant, innovative and exciting. Attendees also benefitted from a special briefing by Delifrance that drew on the findings of its 'Beyond Breakfast & Brunch' report and gave an insight into the £11.6bn breakfast market.

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Attendee List


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Event Review

Guests gathered at the stunning 30 Euston Square; a hidden gem opposite Euston Station.  Home of the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Searcys venue hosted us with a three-course lunch and drinks on the roof terrace. 

The morning began with networking over coffee and breakfast, courtesy of Délifrance, before the day’s speakers gave their views on ‘Staying ahead of the game and relevant’.

Brunch is the new dinner

First up for the day was Stéphanie Brillouet, Marketing Director, Northern Europe and North America, Délifrance, who gave us a fascinating insight into the changing shape of the £11.6bn breakfast market.  Using an interactive voting poll, guests were invited to forecast the trends on their phones prior to Stéphanie sharing results from the consumer survey that’s behind Délifrance’s new ‘Beyond Breakfast & Brunch’ report.

The on-the-go market is continuing to grow as consumers multi-task by eating breakfast while they go about their day.  On the flip side, the brunch market is also growing, with 40% of consumers viewing it as a social occasion.  The fast-growing eating occasion is an opportunity to socialise with a lower price point than dinner, usually due to the lack of alcoholic drinks. Surprisingly, 18-24 year olds spend the most per head on brunch.  And, it seems Londoners are biggest brunch eaters.

Both health and indulgence influence breakfast choices.  Service is really important and coffee quality remains crucial, with many consumers willing to leave an outlet for a better quality coffee across the street.

To find out more about the profit potential of breakfast and brunch, visit to download the new report.

Aiming to be exceptional

Next up was a very open and honest insight into the world of Searcys from MD, Matt Thomas.  As the UK’s longest standing foodservice provider, with Royal roots, Searcys is now owned by WSH and has high aspirations.

Its aim is to be the hospitality provider of choice for culture and heritage by providing food and hospitality that’s fresh, simple, seasonal and relevant.  The typical Searcys customer is aged 35-52 and is looking for exceptional experiences.  

Matt echoed Stéphanie’s views on brunch, stating that it’s a very British thing to do and that London’s iconic gherkin is fully booked until November.  Booking hospitality experiences is becoming increasingly popular with consumers expecting a quoted price in less than three hours.  And, decisions on where to dine are made from social platforms for consumers aged 35 and lower.

Focusing on adding value for the customer, Matt and his team are really focusing on team development with a dedicated service academy, a champagne academy and is also looking to go beyond the expected in terms of CSER, by increasing its two stars from The Sustainable Restaurant Association to three.

Referring to Searcys as a small player in a big market, Matt is focused on growing the business by creating more hospitality experiences that are simply exceptional.

Challenging perceptions

Andrew Allen, Partner in Biff’s Kitchen, which serves vegan junk food, gave guests several laughs when he shared a video of a procession of giant inflatable dinosaurs in a Sainsbury’s store, as an example of how challenger food brands have to stand out from the crowd.

Andrew gave a lively and animated talk about what it’s like to get a food business off the ground, based on his own real-life experiences that began on Dragon’s Den, where he and business partner pitched Snaffling Pig – gourmet pork scratchings.  The pub classic went from strength to strength and Snaffling Pig was the first ever brand to create a pork scratching advent calendar!

Passionate that foodservice is the best market for start-ups, he highlighted three key areas that operators can focus on to support new suppleirs: shorter payment terms, embracing new brands to give them opportunities and giving feedback.

Emerging brands can give hospitality businesses the opportunity to stand out from the crowd by meeting the constant consumer thirst for new product innovation.

Playground of food and hospitality

Continuing the ‘disruption’ theme, Martin Williams, CEO, Gaucho and Founder and CEO, M Restaurants gave a fascinating insight into his career as a restaurateur.

Falling into hospitality to supplement his acting career, he quickly assumed a reputation as a disruptor when managing the Wok Wok concession at Harrods and then spent several years at ‘Christophers’, The Ivy for politics, before moving to Gaucho where he was GM at Canary Wharf.  Once again ahead of the times, his first marketing initiative was to offer a delivery service to the likes of Morgan Stanley.

He moved to Gaucho Moorgate and then left the business in search of innovation.  He had a eureka moment, when he realised he didn’t know fine dining and a decade of research and inspiration followed before he launched M Restaurants which is about bringing levels of hospitality and service to a more accessible level. He calls it an ‘internationally-inspired playground of foodservice and hospitality’.

He shared a very frank account of the highs, the lows, what’s worked and what hasn’t.  Individuality is the key to success.  Remaining relevant and evolving to meet local customer demand is at the heart of success.


Following the morning’s talks, guests enjoyed a glass of Greyfriars English Sparkling wine, canapés set in Délifrance a la foile tartlet shells and cones while networking.

The stunning lunch created by Searcys started with John Ross Jnr smoked salmon, sour dough and crispy capers followed by Norfolk chicken ballotine, charred broccoli, English asparagus, pea broth, broad bean and parsley relish.  The meal was finished with Kentish berry eton mess.

Award-winning wines – Citrus Tree Chardonnay and Anciens Temps Rouge – accompanied the meal, courtesy of Unity Wines.