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Making time for lunch

While Krispies’ lunchtime trade is slowly growing, it won’t devalue its offering by running long-lasting promotions or freebies

Over the last few years, we have seen a 25% increase in our lunchtime trade. We believe this is mainly a result of being involved in the National Fish & Chip Awards, which has caused the shop’s profile to grow, in turn making more people aware of our business.

It’s also improved since taking the decision to open all day. We recognised a change in trends about four or five years ago of people working different shift patterns, changes in family’s eating habits and people eating later. Our lunchtime trade is still quite small in comparison to the rest of the day - I would say around 10% of our sales are between 12-2pm, 5% between 2-4pm and the rest after 4pm - but it’s certainly an area that is becoming increasingly important to us.

Where we are in Exmouth, we do have a lot of competition: we have Subway, McDonald’s, Domino’s and KFC plus Boots and, I would say, roughly 70-80 other pubs and cafes. They all do lunchtime deals ranging from a sandwich with crisps and a drink, to a main meal and a free pint, to really low-pried offers of two meals for £8. So there’s definitely a market there to be had and one that we tap into by offering a mini fish and chips (although it’s available all day too).

But our ethos has always been not to ever under value the product we sell by offering anything free or discounted in store on a permanent basis. Instead we prefer to run time-limited promotions which act to bring customers in on certain days or at certain times and, by making them short-lived, we give our customers more reasons to visit. For example, last month we added smoked haddock, mozzarella and spring onion fishcakes for just £2.50 each and this month we are running seabass, ginger and lime fishcakes, both of which have proved really popular.

Whether our lunchtime trade will continue to grow further will remain to be seen. The eating out scene is always changing and our job is to try and predict what trends are coming so we can always be one step ahead. We’re lucky, we have a good all year round trade that peaks in summer - so we find it equally beneficial to focus on other areas. For example, we’ve added grilled options for those looking for healthier ways to eat, and more vegetarian items for the growing number of customers choosing to eliminate meat from their diet. It will be interesting to see how these items grow in relation to the lunchtime market.

Whilst it’s easy to get wrapped up in the latest fads I would definitely say lunchtime trade is very area dependent. If you’re in a town centre, near a university or a shopping centre then, yes, it could work for you to have regular lunchtime meal deals - but change them around so customers don’t get bored.

My advice to anyone who does see an opportunity would be to stick to what you’re doing and don’t try to add too many gimmicks to the menu, you could find yourself overcomplicating things. Do what you do, but do it well.

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