R200 UK Study Tour and Conference 2018

Wednesday 21st March saw a who’s who of the restaurant industry descend upon Liverpool’s unique Camp and Furnace. Whilst perhaps better known as a music venue and home to quirky nights including Bongos Bingo and Ya Nan’s Big Quiz & Singalong, the warehouse space was transformed into a conference venue for the first R200 event of the year – the UK Conference and Study Tour.

Shield Safety Group is a proud sponsor of the R200 this year. Launched by Restaurant magazine in 2008, the R200 is a club made up of the UK’s leading multi-site restaurant operators. We arrived to networking over a cup of tea before the conference began, with speakers from national and local innovators within the sector.

First up, was the captivating Nisha Katona, founder of Indian street food success story (and Shield Safety client) Mowgli. Nisha kicked off what was to be a day full of optimism for the industry – amidst all the press of closures and struggles for operators – in style with the tale of her journey from law into hospitality. Mowgli celebrated record trading in December with like-for-like sales surging 11.5% in December across the four current sites. With plans for a further five openings in 2018, we can’t wait to see their ascent.

Ted Schama from Shelley Sandzer gave us a particularly interesting insight into the state of the market, highlighting the struggles operators face as a result of the rise of takeaway third-parties such as Deliveroo. Footfall is down, as is drinks sales with consumers choosing to eat at home. But it’s not all doom and gloom, there are now more opportunities to negotiate rates with landlords than ever before, giving restauranteurs the chance to secure new sites and reduce operating costs. It was fantastic to hear that the industry is being supported in this way.

Other talks were delivered by John Ennis, co-founder of Grafitti Spirit Group, Paul Askew from Liverpool’s first fine dining restaurant The Art School, Alex Moore from Rosa’s Thai and a finance panel. Tom Weaver, CEO at Flypay, posed the exciting, whilst also a little terrifying, question of what the future holds for technology. A few years ago, people were scared to use contactless – and now it’s second nature. Likewise, 20 years ago we never could have imagined sending 20 billion Whatsapp messages a day (but we do). So… what’s next?

One of the stars of the show for us, was Gary Usher, owner of growing bistro empire including Liverpool’s Wreckfish and Manchester’s Hispi. Talking easily about his rejection from the bank, despite the success of his first restaurant Sticky Walnut, Gary explained how he was led to crowdfunding as an alternative way of raising funds for his expansion. Wreckfish is his fourth site, with plans to open further sites in Manchester city centre and Pinion, Merseyside this year. Showing that the route of conformity is not for everyone, we thoroughly enjoyed hearing Gary’s story.

The conference, was particularly useful for us from a supplier perspective, in many ways opening our eyes to the pain points operators experience outside of our world of compliance. Shield Safety Compliance Services Director, Kelvin Wood, explains ‘We might assume safety is a main issue but the property pricing issues in relation to tenancies, use of technology and the changing face of the market are prevalent. Events like this help us understand our customers a little better – just another reason we felt proud to be a part of the R200.’

Onto the study tour, which took us round Liverpool’s hot spots Neon Jamon, Wreckfish, The Art School, Buyers Club, 81 Ltd, Salt Dog Slims and Porky’s Ski Hutte. This section of the day was incredibly well organised thanks to Restaurant magazine and we’d like to say a big thanks to all the operators for having us – especially for the plentiful and delicious food and drink offering at each venue.

On our new partnership with the R200, Restaurant Magazine Account Director Luke Mould said: ‘Restaurant magazine’s R200 programme, now its 11th year, is the UK’s largest hospitality networking programme bringing together best of breed suppliers with the UK’s leading multi-site operators. For us Shield Safety was an obvious and perfect partner given their market-leading solution and expertise, we look forward to working with them throughout 2018 and beyond’.

Summed up by our Sales Director, Danny Dale, the first R200 event ‘Was a brilliant day. We are so proud to be sponsoring such a worthwhile industry-led event. We met loads of great people who we look forward to making safety simple for in the future.’

We can’t wait for the R200 European study Tour in Barcelona in July.

Are you a multi-site restaurant operator who would like to be involved with the R200 or even join us in Barcelona? Contact Danny Dale today on sales@shieldsafety.co.uk or call 0203 740 3744 to find out more.

The information contained in this blog article has been created for marketing purposes and is not official guidance and should not be used as a substitute for official Food Safety, Fire Safety and Health & Safety advice. Shield Safety take no responsibility if the information in the blog article is used to form part of a safety management system or used to form part of any legal or regulatory compliance for your business. For official guidance and to engage with Shield Safety services please do call our team on 020 3740 3744 or email hello@shieldsafety.co.uk.

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