, UK

Chopstix managing director Jon Lake joins QSR Media UK Conference’s Leaders Panel

He believes the QSR sector should remain adapting and evolving.

Jon Lake, managing director of Chopstix, is the latest executive participating in the Leaders Panel of the QSR Media UK Conference and Awards, happening on June 28.

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At the helm of the company since 2018, Lake has 30 years’ experience in a number of key roles within multinational organisations, including Fine Food Capital, where he was Development Director, and Deloitte, where he was Director of M&A specialising in the licensed retail sector. 

Lake also held senior management posts with both Punch and Whitbread. Working closely with Chopstix’s co-founders, Sam Elia and Menashe Sadik, he has overseen the growth of the company, which now comprises 80 locations across UK and Ireland, and franchise partners including Welcome Break, Applegreen, and Haven.

More on our Q&A with Lake below.

QSR Media: What is the state of the QSR/fast casual restaurant industry from your point of view?
Lake: Despite challenging conditions affecting the sector, the QSR industry continues to show great resilience. We’ve seen before, when coming out of the 2008 Recession, that the sector can survive, and even thrive, in difficult economic circumstances, and there remains strong consumer demand for good value, great tasting food. Landlords trust QSR brands, so there’s great opportunity for brands who are in a position to expand, and businesses with a solid, scalable model also have a great opportunity to grow through franchising.
 
The COVID-19 Pandemic accelerated the growth of delivery for a lot of brands, and that continues to be an important arm of many QSR businesses, and we’ve seen an encouraging return of footfall as restrictions have lifted, albeit with some parts of the UK being slower to respond than others or changes to trading patterns during the day/week being apparent.
 
What are some key lessons/insights/trends that brands have learned/further understood/need to know as we navigate current challenges?
We’ve built our success on tasty food that people crave, keeping it simple, and having a really clear proposition. This is particularly important when it comes to scaling up your business or expanding through franchising. We’ve got a really straightforward business model, and a clear point of difference in what we offer compared to other QSRs on the high street.
 
You can never stay still in QSR, so you’ve got to keep adapting and evolving. Customer experience is key and you’ve got to keep pace with consumer demand and expectations – whether that’s refreshing your stores regularly to make them feel fresh and current, or how you engage through digital channels, whether that’s making sure you’ve got an active presence on TikTok, or driving loyalty and harnessing data with your own app.
 
What can we expect from your panel discussion at this year’s QSR Media Conference & Awards?
An honest and forthright appraisal of the QSR landscape in the UK, and what the future looks like for the sector and for CHOPSTIX in particular.

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