“I think we have forgotten how busy London used to be,” Neil Sebba, managing director at Tossed told with MCA.

“The secondary streets still feel really quiet. Units are closed and there are not many people around… even if it still feels busy,” he said.

This is the key factor behind the salad bar business’ post-Covid rationale to only acquire new sites that are in prime footfall locations, or as close as they can be to them.

Since the beginning of last year it has opened locations on Baker Street, Cannon Street, London Wall and Gray’s Inn Road, and has two new sites opening this spring/summer at 120 Cheapside and Victoria Street in Westminster.

When it comes to ‘grade a’ locations, “you have to pay a bit more for them, but you need to be in the right place at the moment”, he explained.

Sebba said the tube station usage data, which shows around 65-70% usage now in the City of London, felt about right in terms of footfall levels.

“Everyone will tell you London is back – but it isn’t,” he said.

But although there is lower footfall, this is generally offset by fewer competitors, high levels of delivery business and increased prices. “It kind of works, it’s just a very different build up to your top line than it used to be.”

Sebba said that the combination of tube and rail strikes and “weird weather” last year, meant that it was tougher than hoped for coming out of Covid.

“What we really want is for people to get back into their working routine. At the start of this year, it seemed like there was more of a more move towards that… but obviously the strikes haven’t helped.”

With food price inflation also a challenge, Sebba said the business has no choice but to take some of it in price. “We just want to be here on the other side.”

When it comes to the pressure on the consumer, he says he is very happy to offer discounts to those customers who reward Tossed with their loyalty and visit on a frequent basis, “it is just about making sure we reward the right people”.

It launched a new loyalty platform last month, which it is now marketing to customers. “The system is fully integrated with our EPOS, and if you go into our stores now they are all advertising Tossed rewards, with £5 off your first order.”

While the functionality on the front end is currently similar to the previous programme, Sebba said it was all about what the business was able to do and the back end, with additional functionality able to be rolled out in the near future.

“It will allow us to communicate more effectively, and will do all the things that loyalty should do.”

Tossed will also be relaunching its breakfast menu later this spring, with an expanded offering.