Leon, Starbucks & EAT to host Keynotes at Lunch! 2014

Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of Leon and a founding director of the Sustainable Restaurant Association, Steve Flanagan, UK marketing and category director at Starbucks, and Sarah Doyle, brand director at EAT. are just three of the big name Keynote speakers already confirmed to appear at this year’s lunch! show, which returns to the Business Design Centre in London on 23-24 September.

Martin Hambleton, head of procurement & innovation at En Route International, will also be adding lunch! speaker duties to his impressive resume (he has held senior buying positions at Elior UK, EAT. and DO&CO). As a buyer, Hambleton has been a keen supporter of lunch! for years, calling it “the best trade show a buyer can attend”. As a speaker, his ‘Buying Masterclass’ looks set to prove just as essential.

Running throughout the two day show, lunch!’s free business seminars are renowned for attracting a host of high-profile brands and industry leaders from across the food to go retailing and contract catering industry. With past speakers including representatives from Pret, YO! Sushi, Subway, M&S Foods, Caffè Nero, AMT Coffee and the Compass Group UK & Ireland.

Creating an appetite for change

“We all like to think we're open to new ideas and like to experiment, but then we seem to eat the same sandwich from the same place most days,” says EAT.’s brand director Sarah Doyle, speaking ahead of her 11am opening day Keynote (Tuesday 23 September).

Given that many people’s eating habits can be firmly ingrained, the first step for lunchtime retailers looking to boost their customer base is “not scaring them off before they've walked through the door”.

Drawing on over 18 years of experience as a marketer in the food industry, working on FMCG brands such as Hula Hoops, Typhoo Tea and Quorn, and overseeing EAT.’s recent brand revamp, Doyle will divulge strategies on how retailers can maximise their sales by persuading these “creatures of habit” to change their routines.

Independent and thriving

The Working lunch! Theatre (sponsored by Magrini) will also include sessions by entrepreneurTim Hall, creator ofhealthy fast-food brand Pod, and Richard Garcia, founder and owner of Cook & Garcia.

Discussing ‘How to become the best independent sandwich shop in the UK’ is a bold undertaking for any operator. But if anyone’s in a position to give advice, it’s Garcia – winner of ‘Best independent Sandwich Bar in the UK’ for two years running at the BSA’s Sammies Awards (2013 and 2014). Since its launch in May 2012, Richmond-based Cook & Garcia (co-founded with his wife Janet Cook) has not only taken the British sandwich industry by storm but made it on to the prestigious ‘Start Ups Top 100’ list (it moved in to the top 45 this year).

With over 25 years’ experience as a chef, Garcia will be sharing some of the key lessons he’s learned along the way, with a focus on how to compete and thrive as an independent on a high street full of the global brands.

'”lunch! is a fantastic show for trade each year – and a key source of inspiration to us at Cook & Garcia,” says Janet Garcia, director of Cook & Garcia. “At last year’s show we met two new suppliers that are now key to our business. We are looking forward to attending again this year.”

Fresh market insights

Other new sessions announced today include ‘Lunch as we knew it… A post-recession review of the lunch market,’ hosted by Emma Read, director of marketing and business development for foodservice analyst Horizons.

This essential market update will give an overview of established and upcoming trends in the vibrant food-to-go sector, and look ahead to what’s likely to happen to the market now that the UK is out of recession.

“Street food is just one example of how operators are responding to the rising demand for sustainable, healthy, hand-held food,” says Read. “Providing innovative solutions to meet consumers’ demand for flavoursome, innovative, authentic on-the-go dishes.”

She’ll also be using the Horizons’ latest data to review how the upcoming allergen regulations, which come into force in December, are likely to impact lunch menus.

The full Working lunch! Theatre line-up is set to be unveiled early next month.

Returning to the Business Design Centre in London on 23-24 September, the multi-award winning lunch! show will feature 300 exhibiting companies showcasing a wealth of new food and drink products, packaging, equipment and technologies. Show features include the Working lunch! Keynote Theatre, Innovation Challenge Live, Innovation Challenge Showcase, and the British Smoothie Championships.

To register for a free trade pass, please visit