Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Lunch is, sadly, a habit I’ve fallen out of...

Lunch is, sadly, a habit I’ve fallen out of. There was a time, back in the days when I worked on much-missed trade paper The Publican, when lunch was more or less obligatory.

At the appointed hour, we’d head to Fuller’s temple of calm in Croydon, the Royal Standard, nestling in the shadow of the A232 flyover.  A sausage sandwich and a pint of Chiswick set me back less than a fiver, and was the perfect way to set up an afternoon’s work.

Alas, the old Publican team is now scattered to the winds, and the downside of working from a desk in the front room is that lunch tends to be less of a social occasion. I normally manage to compile a makeshift toastie from whatever’s in fridge, but with only the goldfish for conversation, debate about the burning issues of the day is somewhat lacking.
So my attention was caught by research from our old friends at analyst Horizons, forecasting that lunch is set to grow its share of overall foodservice sales. 

Among the insights, we learn
  • The lunch market is currently  worth £14.9bn
  • The lunch market  has risen by 3.3% on 2009 figures
  • The average British adult eats lunch out 1.4 times per week in 2012, a rise from once a week in 2011
  • Lunch through quick service and casual dining restaurants is doing well, meeting consumer needs for fast meals to eat-in or takeaway
Spurred on, I decided to pop out for a pub lunch. In my local – which sadly, isn’t a Fuller’s pub and  – the sausage sandwich comes with red onion chutney, something which  the Royal Standard’s otherwise impressive range of condiments never ran to, with the choice of chips or salad on the side.  Well, I was never going to have the salad, was I?

My lunch may have had more frills than the simple fare of old, but the price was also as eyewatering as the barman’s aftershave.  Could pubs learn something from other businesses which are successfully driving lunch trade? Just a few ideas:
  • Deli counters – let customers build their own sandwich from a choice of fillings
  • Takeaway – offer simple lunch deals ‘to go’
  • Loyalty cards – stamp the card and drive extra trade with offers such as a free after-work drink after five lunch visits
  • Meal deals – offer a pint, glass of wine or soft drink with a sandwich at a set price.
In a market where we’re all pressed for time and looking for value, a pub lunch shouldn’t feel like a luxury

This 'Kitchen Porter' column appears in the October 2012 issue of Fuller's Tenants Extra.

No comments:

Post a Comment