Vietnamese grab and go brand Hop has seen central London trading return in recent months and looks to open three to four locations across capital in the next year as it returns to the expansion trail.

Speaking at the Lunch! conference, MD Richard Franks said that “the city is really starting to see some great growth.”

The brand opened two new restaurants over the summer including its first seven day, all day trading model in Bond Street station.

Its latest location in Manchester’s Trafford Centre is “going from strength to strength” according to the MD.

Speaking on “adapting to the new normal”, Franks said the brand significantly changed the way it operated after the Covid pandemic, and has  restructured to become a business that attracts consumers across all day parts.

“We really have been trying to diversify, to make sure that we are robust if there is another problem like Covid,” he said.

“We’re trying to make sure we’re ready for whatever hits us.”

For Tossed MD Neil Sebba, London’s office trade has also “finally come back to life”, but it could be another couple of years before the city reaches its full potential.

The health-led QSR brand operates twelve sites across the capital, in “predominantly office facing locations”, including London Wall, Baker Street and Cheapside.

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Sebba said that after the pandemic, the brand had played its cards “heavily” on the London city office worker.

“Everyone thinks London is really busy but if you look at the office stats it’s really only just over half full.”

Host Sheeren Ritchie, COO, Buns From Home, said it was an exciting time for the food to go brand, which is currently ramping up expansion, with plans to open two sites per month from next year.

“There is money out there. You just need to be best in class to get it”, Ritchie said, adding, “If you do chicken, be better than anyone else, and don’t deviate.

“Nando’s does Nando’s really well. Five Guys does Five Guys really well. That’s why they lead, and they take market share”, she said.

There are plenty of opportunities for QSR brands in the current climate as consumers drop out of the casual dining market, said Ritchie, who believes the channel is in the “strongest position” currently across the industry.

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“QSR has changed a lot,” adds Franks.

“What we’re trying to do is be the best, we say we’re the best Vietnamese-inspired grab and go lunch.”

“We relentlessly look at our menu and we relentlessly look at how it is working.”

Sebba added, “People will pay. The average spend is undoubtedly higher and it’s not just driven by inflation.

He feels the blurring of the lines between the restaurant and quick-service channels could be driven by visibility on delivery platforms.

“You can essentially order from one of us, for a bit less money than a restaurant chain, and you see it on the same platform looking exactly the same.”

Across the industry, more needs to be done to attract a committed workforce.

“We really need to champion our industry. Our biggest challenge is getting the next generation in,” says Ritchie. “We need to be an industry that people want to work in.”

Sebba added that although recruitment has “settled down a bit”, it continues to be a challenge to recruit at mid-level.

For Franks, the key is, “making sure everyone in the business has a voice.”

“People want to feel part of the growth and success of the business.”