The challenges and big wins of food to go

Food to go is helping retailers offset declining sales in categories such as tobacco, but it has its own challenges

Food to go is helping retailers offset declining sales in other categories, but it has its own challenges. Two retailers tell Alex Yau how the category works in their stores from open to close

Anish Panchmatia, Spar Wylde Green, Sutton Coldfield


Anish introduced food to go to his 3,000sq ft store six months ago and sells £1,000 of stock per week. The success has given him the confidence to take on an upcoming evening meal offering, even with competition from nearby pubs and fast food chains.

How I manage breakfast
My range includes breakfast baps, coffee, bacon, cheese turnovers and sausage rolls. We’re nearby a train station and these products work because commuters can have them while travelling to work.

We’re open 24/7. Trained chefs come in at 4am every morning. The fact the products are store-made saves costs and prevents wastage. It also ensures our products are as fresh as possible when breakfast starts at 6am.

How I manage lunch
Our products are supplied by Country Choice. We have sausage rolls, pasties and potato rostis from £1.49. They are placed nearby the entrance so the smell attracts customers.

The food to go counter must stay full, even if slow lines aren’t selling. A bare display can put customers off. I’d rather have a full shelf washed rather than one which has a single pasty. We can replace slow sellers the day after.

How I manage dinner 
There are restaurants and takeaways nearby, and I’ll never be able to compete head on as I don’t have a sit-down area. I’m aiming to offer different products with on-trend street food-themed stalls serving international cuisine. There will be 300sq ft dedicated to these stalls.

Each stall will have trained chefs who can cook foods from around the world.  A changing menu each week will stop my range becoming stale. They’ll have full control over staff and menus, and this independence will help me maintain my margins.

Top tips

• High street chains like McDonald’s provide tough competition, but making customers aware you have local products can give you the edge. 

• A food to go counter by the entrance can prompt customers to buy what’s on offer as they leave.

• Snacks and drinks near the till can encourage impulse buying when commuters are queuing each morning.

Supplier advice: promote drinks and food together at breakfast

Paul Whitely, head of marketing at Aryzta Food Solutions
Many people skip traditional breakfasts at home, and with the continued rise of coffee, there’s a key opportunity for retailers to link coffee with a croissant or pain au chocolat.

Come back tomorrow to read about how our second retailer in this special makes food to go work for him.


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