Peckwater Brands CEO: Restaurants ‘thinking beyond’ traditional offerings for post-pandemic boost | QSR Media
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Peckwater Brands CEO: Restaurants ‘thinking beyond’ traditional offerings for post-pandemic boost

He joins the upcoming QSR Media UK Conference & Awards as part of our panel discussion on virtual brands.

Peckwater Brands chief executive Leo Bradshaw is joining the QSR Media UK Conference & Awards, happening on June 28 in London, as part of our panel discussion on virtual brands.

Bradshaw was previously Associate Director at Fairgrove Partners, providing transaction support and growth strategy for private equity firms and their portfolio companies, and Head of Strategy and Insight at Ingenuity, a specialist consultancy to the marketing industry.

More on our Q&A with Bradshaw:

QSR Media: What is the state of the QSR/fast casual restaurant industry from your point of view?
Bradshaw: We all know that the hospitality sector was disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and the QSR industry was no different. Indeed, Peckwater Brands’ own research found that almost two thirds (64%) of restaurants saw demand for their products or services decline since the onset of the pandemic. 

This figure reveals the troubling situation hospitality owners have faced in recent years, but as the UK begins to emerge from lockdown restrictions, there are some encouraging signs that the industry is reviewing and analysing its approach to adapt to changing consumer behaviours. Peckwater Brands’ aforementioned research found that many establishments have ramped up takeaway options (80%) or are exploring options such as virtual brands to make the most of idle resources (71%). Such figures highlight the resilience, flexibility and durability of the sector.

Of course, there are challenges ahead for the QSR industry; it will take some time before it can truly return to its post-pandemic capacity. However, our research suggests that restaurants are beginning to think beyond their traditional offerings and consider innovative opportunities, which may further aid their recovery in the months and years to come. 

What are some key lessons/insights/trends that brands have learned/further understood/need to know as we navigate current challenges?
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that circumstances can change at the drop of a hat – and this could present problems for businesses looking to facilitate their long-term recoveries. As such, QSR business owners must be flexible and explore all options available to them. 

At the moment, for example, Dark Kitchens are prevalent within the QSR industry, particularly as so many have taken them on throughout the pandemic in order to meet the growing demand for takeaways. However, it is important to remember that this option might not suit all QSR businesses; the high start-up costs of between £60,000 and £80,000 when setting up a dark kitchen, as well as the inability for individual brand owners to ensure quality control are factors decision-makers should consider when contemplating dark kitchens. 

On the contrary, other options such as Virtual Brands will allow organisations to make use of idle capacity in their existing kitchen, whilst allowing them the flexibility to experiment with different menus to cater to changing consumer demand. Our partner businesses that have integrated virtual brands into their operations have reported increases in their income of between £12,103 and £45,823 a month.

Of course, major decisions will require careful consideration, but provided that businesses take their time to explore all options, they should be able to overcome sudden changes to the current climate.  

What can we expect from your panel discussion at this year's QSR Media Conference & Awards?
Panel discussions provide the perfect opportunity for professionals within industries to share and challenge different ideas. All panelists will have their own thoughts on the future of virtual brands, and I look forward to sharing my views and predictions for the coming year. Hopefully, we’ll inspire some hospitality entrepreneurs to explore this innovative (and potentially lucrative) proposition – and fuel the transformation of the QSR industry! 

Want to know the future of virtual brands in the UK? Don’t miss the QSR Media UK Conference & Awards and click here to register.

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