No stranger to award wins, Nando’s was recognised for its constant innovation with the Best Company accolade at MCA’s Retailer’s Retailer Awards last week.

Now the biggest restaurant group by outlet numbers and turnover in the UK, Nando’s was one of the few brands to expand in 2020.

The business has rapidly accelerated its digital strategy during the last 12 months, launched a cashless order and pay app, click and collect service, and first of its kind ‘brought to you by Deliveroo’ option.

At the same time as making sweeping changes to its supply chain, moving to digital and launching its first plant-based offer, Nando’s showed a determination to serve its customers through any and every restriction.

Speaking to MCA before the awards ceremony on Thursday (11 March) Garry Duncan, operations director, Nando’s explained that the brand had to adapt really quickly for the challenges it saw coming towards it in 2020.

“We adapted really quickly with our delivery options, which helped us get through and helped us get a lot of our staff back to Nando’s as quickly as possible,” said Duncan.

“Nando’s was already in the delivery game and we had an opportunity to upscale that really quickly,” he added. Nando’s also tapped into technology, introducing QR codes as part of its queuing system.

Duncan said the biggest lesson the brand learnt in 2020 was about understanding what its customers wanted and needed and listening to its Nandocas – its affectionate name for its staff – in order that it could open in a really safe way.

One of the reasons it was able to do this was due to its strong company culture, and the fact that is focused on efficient communication from day one, he explained.

Duncan said he believed the fact that all operators had to adapt in a really agile fast-paced way would help the hospitality industry in the future. He also expects to see some new concepts and fresh thinking come out of the crisis.

“This year has been the toughest for everyone, not just us, so winning an award like this would be really special for us,” he said.