The last three months are “as good as it’s going to be” for delivery and dark kitchens, believes Thunderbird CEO Paul Gilchrist.

Commenting on the long-term prospects for delivery during MCA’s The Conversation earlier this week, Gilchrist said: “The reality is with the rest of the sector having been closed, it’s never going to be any better.”

He said that although its dark kitchens had been “a god send” during the pandemic, last week sales from those sites dropped anywhere between 8-28%. “It’s not unexpected – I think it will be interesting to see where it goes this week as it resettles again,” he added.

“There is always going to be a place for delivery only but I don’t think it’s probably going to be in the same format – it needs to be a more viable model,” he said.

Gilchrist said the business had been offering delivery and takeaway through the pandemic and, certainly since January, has been seeing week-on-week growth in sales. It opened a new site in Earls Court a few weeks ago and also reopened its Paddington site in Pergola – run by Incipio – last week, which he said he helped boost revenue.

Since Gilchrist joined Thunderbird 18 months ago he has done a lot of work to reposition the brand, including its price points, food offering and look and feel, which he described as being “very masculine”.

“Earls Court for us is the beginning of that next generation,” he said, adding that he feels Thunderbird is really on the right path, and “about 80% of the way there” on its look, feel and design.

“We’ve been able to develop the menu through lockdown and go back and look at every aspect of the business. In some ways the pandemic helped us – it gave us the opportunity to go back and re-evaluate and gave us the time to develop certain areas of the business,” he explained.