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The Future Of Casual Dining: Can A Bucket Make The Difference?

Posted on Oct 23, 2020. by NTI

It can't be that size actually does matter, can it? We in the NTI newsroom don't think so. We rather agree with Mokokoma Mokhonoana, who said: “A bigger tongue does not make tasty food tastier.” Good point, all a bigger tongue does in a restaurant is make you inadvertently spit over the waiter when ordering food.

So, how come the company with the buckets (KFC) announced good news today, when those with the cups (Caffè Nero) had nothing but bad? It cannot be as simple as selling coffee in larger vessels, can it? It is never a good sign when members of the KPMG team are spotted sitting at one of your tables, eyeing up the size of your cappuccinos whilst putting a fork through your numbers of colleagues. NTI reported back in June that the casual dining restructuring specialists were appointed to look into the restructuring options of one of the UK's largest coffee shop chains and only ran their finger down the alphabet as far as the letter 'C' before they decided upon a likely CVA. The decision has not been made, although landlords must recognise the theme music to the show they have been dancing to all summer; it could be days, it could be weeks - but who are we trying to kid? Not the 5,000 people who work for Caffè Nero who won't sleep well over the weekend.

Meanwhile the slightly creepy looking Colonel Sanders has a plan to recruit up to 5,400  young people under the Government's £2 billion 'Kickstart Scheme' across its 965 restaurants in the UK. The Scheme was announced in July of this year and offers grants for employers, covering all pay and National Insurance up to minimum wage for 'motivated young people' participating in the scheme. Funding includes paying the relevant national minimum wage for up to 25 hours a week. The Pathway Group have been chosen to administer the scheme on behalf of Mims Davies, the Minister for Employment whose name would have won you £10,000 had you correctly answered the question on the radio this morning: 'What is the name of the current Minister for Employment?' Put it this way, her husband Mark thought she was still working at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport when called by Capital Radio earlier today, thereby losing out on what the Americans call a 'rack' (or five 'archers', an 'archer' being £2,000).

Pathway have got their work cut out. How do you find a 'motivated young person'? It's a riddle asked by many an exhausted parent whose hands are sore ripping Xbox Ones out of the hands of their kids and screaming at them to 'MAKE SOMETHING OF YOURSELF'. The irony is that many a 17 year old has shown signs of some motivation when being passed a tenner (or an 'Ayrton Senna') and asked to pop out and pick up a bucket of wings at KFC. The scheme at the restaurant chain is expected to run until December 2021, but KFC said all its new hires will be on permanent basis in full time or part time roles offering a minimum of 25 hours per week. It added the company does not offer zero-hour contracts; however, it does offer a twelve piece boneless chicken dipping feast and Billy of the newsroom thinks that says it all.

KFC have a page on its website entitled 'Chicken Welfare' (which is all a bit late for the chickens lined up shivering in the back of the shop). The opening line of this page says, "Chicken Is What We Do" and that is precisely what the chickens are worried about.

All of the above when UK retail sales increased for the fifth consecutive month in September, the volume rising by 1.5 per cent between August and September meaning that total retail sales were 5.5 per cent higher than pre-pandemic levels in February. Over the last quarter, retail sales volumes surged by 17.4 per cent when compared with the previous three months, the biggest quarterly increase on record. Spending on household goods and garden items fuelled the recovery in sales on the month, as consumers shifted spending away from holidays abroad. Talking of fuel, sales of that were still 8.6% below February levels, with fewer people commuting to work, while clothing sales were 12.7% down, a reflection of fewer opportunities to socialise.

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