Sheila McWattie looks at how to select the right staff uniform for your business.
Stand out from the crowd
Leeds' Cross Keys introduced staff uniforms two years ago. Co-owner John Gyngell says: "Our bar and floor staff wear a black shirt and apron, printed with our Cross Keys logo, and chefs have been provided with Cross Keys chefs' whites. Uniforms help staff stand out from the crowd and appear more authoritative. Managers and customers have noticed an increased sense of pride and professionalism in the workplace."
Carol Haime at the Sandrock, Surrey, says: "Our uniform is black with our website address on the back. This ensures customers can identify staff, promotes a professional image and continually reminds customers of our web address. We also feature promotional T-shirts as a contrast to highlight events, such as our Sandrock referee T-shirts for the World Cup or red tops saying 'Book now for Christmas' worn in autumn."
Tibard commercial director Rick Shonfeld says the gap between high-street and workplace fashion continues to close, especially front-of-house. "Staff want comfortable uniforms and often this means providing a tailored garment that suits the wearer. Staff who feel comfortable and look the part project a more welcoming image — vital in the current economic climate. Involving staff in the decision-making by running garment trials adds worth to the uniform." For more information visit www.oliverharvey.co.uk.
Smart and casual
Grand Union Group marketing manager Richard Raven comments: "Grand Union's London sites don't have staff uniforms as it is important to keep the operation's independent feel. By contrast, at our country pub, the Three Locks, Stoke Hammond, Bucks, staff uniforms give the customer confidence that we provide an excellent quality, sophisticated offer. Our informal white, branded T-shirts give the impression of a friendly yet professional business."
The Dorset is the flagship chef's jacket in Oliver Harvey's new range of "Quintessentially British" chef-wear. The double-breasted executive chef's uniform, manufactured from 100% long staple Egyptian cotton, features French rounded double cuffs, hand Coolmax under-arm ventilation, a double pen pocket and top-stitched collar with inside collar ribbon. It has short or long sleeves and is also available in a tall cut. For more information visit www.oliverharvery.co.uk.
Simon Bailey, proprietor of the Kings Arms at Hampton Court and recently-launched Bell Inn at Hampton, says: "Our brand and style set us apart from the competition and customers relate to this. We have our logo on all our menus, flyers, stationery, websites and our staff wear uniforms. We opted for T-shirts as we wanted to create a laid-back relaxed atmosphere — after all, we are a pub."
It's essential that kitchen hygiene is never compromised by dirty uniforms. Johnsons Stalbridge Linen Services sales & marketing director David Hill says: "You may spend a long time choosing the right look, but if that item is not processed and cleaned properly, it will give a negative impression. Increasingly, pub operators are choosing to outsource their work-wear and laundry suppliers. There's a critical risk of cross-contamination, so kitchen wear must be cleaned to the right spec."
At London's recently-opened Anthologist, operations manager Taskin Muzaffer says: "Our dark-blue skinny jeans are paired with black slim-fit shirts, long sleeves for the boys and three-quarter length sleeves for the girls. Our light-grey aprons give a subtle, yet professional contrast. Footwear is black or white plimsolls, and we have a fun dressing-up box with brightly coloured fascinators and armbands for staff, which they can choose from every morning."
For pub operators looking for a low-price uniform entry point, aprons provide a versatile and stylish solution. Nick Jubert, MD of Denny's uniform suppliers, explains: "An apron is the ultimate low-cost, multi-use uniform. It can fit all sizes and shapes and makes the wearer instantly recognisable as part of the team. Everybody is looking for value and durability from the garments they buy."
3663 foodservice marketing manager Barrie Wood highlights the value of individuality. "We're increasingly seeing materials and finishes not normally associated with the industry, such as faux suede and faux leather. More customers are moving away from black and opting for brighter high-fashion colours. They are still dark enough to camouflage stains and spills, but create a point of difference."
3663 offers a range of uniforms including aprons and tabards, chef's whites, coats, footwear, headwear and scarves and shirts. The attire for chefs ranges from traditional whites to ultra modern, bright and colourful patterns. For more information visit www.3663.co.uk.
Choosing the right look
3663 foodservice marketing manager Barrie Wood offers tips on choosing uniforms for your pub:
• Carry out uniform trials with your staff, rather than leaving it solely to the purchasing manager. By including them in the decision-making process you add value to the garment because staff will feel they have had direct involvement, rather than having something forced on them.
• As there is an ongoing fashion for chefs to be highly visible, there is considerable emphasis placed on them looking the part at all times. A chef in clean whites suggests a high standard of hygiene and professionalism in the kitchens. It's important that their look is consistent, so do make sure that all chefs are similarly attired.
• It's advisable to hold a small buffer stock for the chefs on site, so there is always a clean and smart replacement garment available when those inevitable spills happen.
Watching those trends
Tibard commercial director Rick Shonfeld looks at ideas to help your pub's uniform stand out from the crowd:
n Customers are moving away from traditional black and opting instead for colours seen in high-end fashion house collections. They make a welcome change from black and create a point of difference.
n There is increasing demand for smart casual attire rather than formal, traditional options in pub and smaller restaurant groups.
n The trend for high visibility chefs continues to place lots of emphasis on them looking smart at all times. A chef in tidy, pressed clothing projects an air of cleanliness and pride, and reassures customers about standards in all areas of the establishment. It's also important to make the look uniform, so make sure that all chefs are dressed the same. Many of our clients order extra garments for their chefs to be held on site.
For info visit www.tibard.co.uk.
The message in a look
Nick Jubert, MD of Denny's, supplier of clothing to bars, clubs, restaurants and hotels, talks about the messages put across by uniforms.
Jubert says: "Uniforms play a vital part in creating and conveying a positive brand image. Whether a waistcoat, apron or a suit, uniform should be fit for purpose and comfortable to wear. The part that uniform plays in staff morale shouldn't be underestimated."
Fuller's has been purchasing uniforms from Denny's for seven years. Angelika Nordback, Fuller's buyer, says: "There is no doubt in my mind that if a customer visits a pub whose staff are smart, well-presented and look like a team, the impression they get is greatly improved. There is a place for individuality, but a consistent look for the team can convey style and professionalism."
Uniforms should reflect the personality of the bar or club, with a "signature" colour from the logo or branding reflected in a shirt