At Creams Cafe, innovation isn’t just about novelty for its own sake. It’s about solving problems and seizing opportunities with a clear purpose, CEO Everett Fieldgate tells MCA.

This philosophy underpins all new product development at the 100-strong dessert café business, and is exemplified in its latest launch, Puds on the Fly – desserts for on-the-go enjoyment.

“The ultimate insight was that during the summer people want to be out and about, they want to be in the sunshine, with family with friends, whether we’re sitting in a park or shopping.

“The obvious answer to that is portability. Also, no one in the industry was doing it, so it has both a consumer led opportunity to drive impulse sales and would reinforce our leadership in the dessert category.

Fieldgate says that the range’s headliner, the Crookiewich has also been inspired by social media trends; made up of a waffled croissant filled with Creams Cafe’s cookie dough and gelato. As has the Crispy Ice Cream Curls; featuring crispy pastry rolls with soft vanilla ice cream, topped with a ‘magically crisp’ chocolate sauce.

Crofflewich HAND  (2)


Meanwhile, Fruit Kebabs recognise the decadence of the core menu, and presents a product which is lighter, but “still maintains the Creams essence”, with chocolate hazelnut and white chocolate sauces.

Ice Cream Rolls name TBC  (1)

Crispy Ice Cream Curls

Other “problem-solver” launches, as Fieldgate describes, include Creams’ Winter Warmers campaign, which sought to overcome a significant challenge facing a business built on gelato.

caramel apple slillet

Caramel Apple Skillet 

“In the past our business had a very large seasonal decline between summer and winter,” to address this, Creams developed a range of hot desserts, in what the brand claims is a first for the UK dessert restaurant sector. 

Post launch, the business recorded strong festive trading, with like-for-like in-café sales up 5.8% in December 2023 compared to the same period in 2022.

Recognising the impact of reduced disposable incomes, Creams followed this up in January to introduce a value range, with a Soft Swirl Sundae range priced at £3.45 each and available in five flavours.


Rigorous Testing

Regardless of the opportunity to be met, there is a rigorous testing process. Ideas come from trend evaluations, overseas observations, franchisee suggestions, customer feedback, and internal brainstorming.

Fieldgate underscores the importance of early-stage commercial testing: “Do we think we’re going to be able to sell it for enough? Or is the cost of sales going to be sufficient for us to make a commercial product, we do that very early on, just to make sure we’re not wasting our time.”

Once ideas pass initial tests, they undergo product development led by the innovation team, followed by an NPD tasting session. “A good example is our recent launch around portability,” Fieldgate recalls. “For part of that NPD tasting session, I went for a walk outside with each one of the products to make sure that I could walk and eat it at the same time.

“ A number of them didn’t pass; they were great products but didn’t solve what we were trying to do.”


Banoffee Hot Pocket

The CEO emphasises the importance of consumer feedback. “All our major decisions are made by consumers.” This consumer-led approach ensures that new products meet market demands and expectations. After consumer testing, products enter ops and concept testing in select stores to evaluate real-world performance and gather additional feedback before a full launch.

 “Failures are expensive, and our credibility as a franchisor depends on getting it right,” Fieldgate stresses. “It’s very easy to think that your palate or propensity to pay is the same as everybody else’s.

“Over 30 years, I’ve learned that that is not the case. We don’t allow our own personal opinions and the opinions of the franchise system dictate what we do, it’s the consumer that dictates to us.”


Remaining True to Creams

“There’s always opportunities, no matter what the circumstances or the situation,”, Fieldgate says when asked what is next in the pipeline for Creams innovation.

“We will be introducing a new category in July. If you think about waffles, or crepes, or sundaes, as a category, we’re actually going to introduce a new one.”

Day-part expansion will also be an area of focus for Creams over the summer. With stores typically busiest from 2pm to 2am, it has created product innovation that is more focused towards the 10am slot, and something coming for lunchtime as well, Fieldgate reveals.

It is currently trialling a new coffee offering with Grumpy Mule, which has driven some “fantastic results” in coffee sales so far. 

“What we need now is the cake range and the pastry range that will meet the expectations of consumers to drive that day part. Once we’ve done that, we’ll move forward pace.”

“What we’re trying to achieve, is to attract new customers.” “We recognise that the number of eating out opportunities across the UK per family has dropped from seven to five per month.”

Fruit kebab TAKEAWAY

Fruit Kebab 

Underscoring an ambition to be at the top end of innovation, Fieldgate adds, “I think it’s important that we remain true to who we are.”

The business is currently undertaking some research into how consumers view the brand and experience, with the aim to capitalise on opportunities to dial up or pivot in certain areas.

At some stage, says Fieldgate, there might be a slight “slow down” in innovation, although he is reticent to use the term.

“I think innovation creates the excitement and a reason to interact.  But I think that there is the opportunity to be building on the successes of the past, rather than always feel like we’re having to create something new.”

“We’re not creating new things for the sake of it. It all comes down to one thing and one thing only in the end, and that is how you execute it.”