A buzzing return for Casual Dining, Commercial Kitchen & lunch!

The hospitality and foodservice industry experienced an injection of inspiration, togetherness, and a newfound business confidence at the return editions of Casual Dining, lunch! and Commercial Kitchen over 23-24 September 2021 at ExCeL London.

Food and drink industry leaders, trailblazers, and senior decision makers came in their thousands across the two days, with a strong and positive appetite for face-to-face business. lunch! welcomed 5561 visitors, Casual Dining welcomed 4707 visitors, and Commercial Kitchen saw a huge increase, welcoming 4295 visitors at its debut London show.

Visitors who attended included senior decision makers and professionals from: The Alchemist, BaxterStorey, Bill’s Restaurants, Burger King, Caffè Nero, Center Parcs, Coffee Republic, Compass Group, Co-op, Crussh, Dishoom, Five Guys, Greggs, Heathrow, Hilton Group, Honest Burgers, KFC, Las Iguanas & Turtle Bay Restaurants, Legoland, Leon, Merlin Entertainments, New World Trading Company, Nando’s, NHS, PizzaExpress, Pret A Manger, The Restaurant Group, Sainsburys, Tesco, Waitrose, WH Smith, and many more. The positive buzz across the show-floor certainly didn’t go unnoticed as exhibitor testimonials echoed the “quality” of contacts they met and “genuine enquiries” they made – concluding that the co-located ‘supershow’ was the “best show yet!”

Chris Brazier, Group Event Director, says: “We’re so delighted to see that the industry has returned to face-to-face trade events in no uncertain terms. The brilliant exhibitors were back, the buyers were back and the buzz was back at our biggest show yet. We won’t rest on our laurels and have already started preparing for an even better lunch!, Casual Dining & Commercial Kitchen for 14 and 15 September 2022. A huge thank you to all our exhibitors, visitors, speakers, media and association partners for their help and support in getting these much-needed shows open again.”

Lucy Blythe, Senior Customer Activation Manager at Molson Coors (Casual Dining exhibitor) says: “We had really positive conversations with our regular customers as well as with new business at Casual Dining 2021. We have some great leads and it was brilliant to have conversations with premium suppliers.”

Justine Carruthers, Managing Director at Traybake (lunch! exhibitor) says: “Everyone is pleased to be here, and there have been significant buyers and senior people to speak to who know what they are looking for. lunch! is the show that helps us grow our business, our top customers have come from exhibiting here.

Iain Phillips, Deputy Managing Director at Regale (Commercial Kitchen exhibitor) says: “The quality has been high at Commercial Kitchen. We’ve taken genuine enquiries and orders across a range of our products. It was great to engage with large accounts and it has allowed us to reconnect with customers. Possibly, the best show we have done!”

Expert advice and inspiration

The multiple Keynote Theatres were packed full of inspiring talks, interviews, and business advice from senior professionals in the business – including Roger Whiteside (CEO of Greggs), Neil Lake (MD of Costa), Alasdair Murdoch (CEO of Burger King). Hannah McKay (Head of Food & Beverage at Caffé Nero), Atul Kochhar (Chef Patron, Atul Kochhar Restaurants), Sat Bains (Chef Patron, Restaurant Sat Bains with Rooms), Cyrus Todiwala OBE DL (Chef Patron, Café Spice Namasté and Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen), Jon Knight (Managing Director, Leisure & Concessions of The Restaurant Group); Mark Selby (Co-Founder and CEO of Wahaca); Anthony Pender (Co-Founder of The Yummy Pub Co); Susan Chappell (Divisional Director - City Division of Mitchells & Butlers); Steve Holmes (CEO of Azzurri Group), Martyn Clover (Head of Food at Tortilla), and many more.

FutureFoodservice.com, Food Future Insights, IGD, UKHospitality, and CGA shared essential market updates and overviews, plus strategies needed to help the sector recover and build resilience after the pandemic and deliver a return to growth ahead of forecast.

“I’ve been blown away by the diversity of suppliers here and the quality of what they are doing. If you are looking for certain suppliers that are doing something really niche, I guarantee that they’re going to be at lunch!,” says Alasdair Murdoch, CEO of Burger King.

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