An interview with tabletop specialist John Cockerell, Sales Director at James F. Kidd & Son Ltd.
With spring just around the corner, John Cockerell explores the latest bar & restaurant trends, challenges, and opportunities presenting the hospitality industry in 2018.
With over 28 years in the hospitality industry, John starting out in Hotel & Catering Supplies with the then named James Rush (followed by Autobar and King UK) as their Sales Representative in 1990. In March 1995 John joined Artis as their Scotland Area Manager, later to progress to UK Sales Manager, spending over 12 years of his career with one of the largest companies supplying tableware, glassware, cutlery and barware products to the foodservice industry. In April 2007 he joined James F. Kidd & Son Ltd, challenged not only with driving sales but to establish James Kidd within the already competitive marketplace, in doing this John identified our main points of difference; independently run Scottish Company, tailored service with flexibility, and working with customers to achieve their needs in a very fast-moving industry.
Q1: Before we take a look at what is in store for 2018, what were the biggest impacts/changes to the hospitality industry in 2017?
A: In 2017 there was, and continues to be, a huge trend in informal/casual dining and the demand for grazing, mezze, and tapas menu choices.The start of 2017 also saw the rise in Tank Craft Beer seen in Edinburghs’ Rabble and newly opened Brewhemia – a new concept to some this process offers customers the experience of tank fresh beer. The Cocktail boom also continues to gather force and shows no signs of fading.
Q2: How have customers tastes/trends changed over the last few years?
A: The most significant change can be seen in crockery. The demand for coloured crockery, reflecting the change in style of eating, has overtaken plain white crockery. In 2017 coloured crockery made up around 75% of all our crockery supplied compared to in 2014 when the market was very much the opposite. Glassware has also seen a significant shift with the rise in demand for vintage style glassware, again reflecting the continued boom in cocktails – contemporary restaurants and bars are moving from generic Hi-Balls and Nonic Beer Glasses to offer a far more ecliptic mix for their drinks menu.
Q3: What do you think is going to be big in 2018 for the Hospitality Industry?
A: I think there will be a continued move to ’clean eating’ menus, offering healthier choices. There is a definite move where customers are very much more aware of what they are eating in an effort to fall into line with a healthier lifestyle. Tank Beer and cocktail demand will definitely continue to be big for 2018.
Q4: Is there any trends would you like to see leave?
A: Chip buckets and baskets have had their day and are showing signs they are on their way out. This is also driven by the wide range of options available now in crockery for presenting side dishes.
Q5: What tips do you have for our customers to stay ahead of the trends?
A: Invest in quarterly menu changes. This keeps customers coming back to try out whats’ new and fall in love again with your business. There is also opportunities around seasonal trends and ‘foodie days’ whether it is Vegan January, Valentines or Halloween this opens up opportunities to capatalise on not only special food menus but drink & cocktail offerings.
Q6: We saw a huge pressure around the issue of waste in 2017 from Paper Cups to Plastic - what consideration do businesses need to be looking at?
A: Compostable, biodegradable, recyclable – these are all familiar terms that we are hearing about on a daily basis, however, the most important consideration is to look at how the waste is being segregated/disposed of within the individual establishment. Operating in the food service sector we acknowledge that impact that our products have on the environment and we are committing to sourcing and providing sustainable and environmental solutions. Unfortunately, there isn’t a ‘one fits all’ solution – a cafe offering take-out coffees has no control to the where that paper coffee cup ends up. We are finding many outlets are confused and misguided and are looking to work alongside businesses to find green solutions right for their business. We have been working closely with Plastico & Simply Cups over the last few months and look forward to sharing shortly our closed loop programme to tackle some of the issues hospitality & catering businesses are facing around this.
Q7: In April this year we will see the first Sugar Tax implemented promoting healthy living. How will this affect the hospitality industry in particular Bars/Nightclubs that sell a lot of soft drinks as well as spirits with high sugar mixers?
A: Those establishments that react earlier will benefit long term. For some premises they cannot easily change the way of dispensing so it is about the alternative options such as bottle format, this, however, can come at an increased cost to the customer.
Q8: James Kidd has seen increases across the board in 2017 – what is in store for 2018 (will this stabilise?) and how does this impact the industry in the coming year?
A: In the first part of 2018 Brexit will continue to have an impact particularly on those products that are European manufactured however as the year goes on, we expect this to level out. We are currently seeing impacts from the shortage of pulp which is increasing the cost across a range of products from napkins to paper hygiene.
Q9: We have seen a huge number of restaurants and cuisine styles enter the market (Baba/White Horse Oyster Bar/Gaucho/Six by Nico) – what restaurants have you been excited to see open/why?
A: The contemporary concept theme has been a big success in Scotland. Herringbone, who’s concept originated in North Berwick brought its dining by the sea to the city of Edinburgh last year very successfully.
Brewhemia, Edinburgh’s largest restaurant and bar, offers 5 themed areas across 2 floors such as the beer palace and the prosecco bar – engaging a wide range of customers of varying tastes and offering different social experiences. And over to the West of Scotland, there has been a huge success with Anchorline, Citizen, and Atlantic – 3 different concepts very well executed and successful.