M&B to 'push the envelope' with Harvester brand

By Mark Wingett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Restaurant, English-language films, Harvester

M&B is to push the limits on its new Harvesters
M&B is to push the limits on its new Harvesters
Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) says it is ready to push the envelope when it comes to the development of Harvester.

Chief executive Alistair Darby said that the company had moved too fast when it entered the leisure and retail park sector with the brand, and not learned crucial lessons in the process.

He said that M&B had made the mistake of assuming everyone knew the key strengths of the brand, and hinted that the new-look Harvester would include booth-style seating.

“We made an assumption that people understood Harvester and its core offer, such as the salad bar and free refills. That was too big an assumption. You go into a lot of our leisure and retail park sites and the salad bar is at the back of the restaurant close to the kitchen for efficiency purposes,” he said.

Lessons

“The key strengths of the brand were being hidden. The next one we open, wherever that is, might be quite extreme, we are going to have a real go and see how far we can push the envelope on Harvester.”

Darby put into perspective how fast the company had moved — in 2010 it opened only one unit and in 2011 it launched 60.

“That presented a whole lot of issues, the availability of people capable of running those sites being one.

“When you are going at that speed you are not learning the lessons.

“If you take Harvester, we were moving too fast. They put a suburban Harvester design into a leisure and retail park site, where space was more limited and although it serves the same guests, young families, their behaviour is different. It shouldn’t be a surprise, but we didn’t see it at the time.

Service

“The challenge is, how do you protect everything that is great about Harvester? The salad bar is key and the grill menu is very important, as is the sense that it is a great place to go with a young family, while also pushing the boundaries in terms of amenity and offer.

“The big battle in family restaurants is not just in design; you can get lost on design, it is important, but service is critical.”

Related topics: Mitchells & Butlers

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