Casual Dining show announces more Keynotes – including Pizza Hut UK’s CEO Jens Hofma & Mowgli founder Nisha Katona


This article is brought to you by Retail Technology Review: Casual Dining show announces more Keynotes – including Pizza Hut UK’s CEO Jens Hofma & Mowgli founder Nisha Katona.

Big speaker announcements are coming in fast for next February’s Casual Dining show, as it adds industry leaders and influencers from Mowgli Street Food, Pizza Hut Restaurants UK, The Alchemist Bars & Restaurants, Bill’s Restaurant, and the Soil Association to its high-profile Keynote line-up.

Recently confirmed additions include Jens Hofma, CEO of Pizza Hut Restaurants UK, who makes a welcome return to the show for its first edition at London ExCeL (taking place over 27-28 February 2019).

Having previously headlined Casual Dining’s launch event in 2014, Mr Hofma, who has headed-up Pizza Hut’s UK-based business since 2009, will be back to share his thoughts on the vibrant casual dining scene.

Founded decades before the term ‘casual dining’ had been coined, Pizza Hut has been a favourite on the UK’s high street for over 40 years.  Under Hofma’s leadership, it’s embraced new opportunities, re-imaged its brand and menus, undergone a significant estate refurbishment programme, and (earlier this year) completed a management buyout (MBO).  It currently employs over 10,000 staff in over 260 restaurants across the country and serves 3 million guests a month.  Hofma will be discussing all that and more in an exclusive Keynote interview, hosted by Peter Martin, director at CM&Co and VP of CGA, at 2.45pm on 28 February.

With around 50 speakers set to appear at the show across two Keynote Theatres (sponsored by Yumpingo), there will be plenty of new names among them.  The latest to be announced are Nisha Katona, founder and CEO of Mowgli Street Food, and Simon Potts, managing director of The Alchemist Bars & Restaurants.

Barrister-turned-restaurateur, executive chef and TV presenter, Ms Katona’s inspirational (and fast-growing) business is known for championing authentic and healthy Indian recipes in a home-from-home setting.  Founded just four years ago, the brand now operates six sites in Liverpool, Manchester, Oxford, Nottingham and Birmingham – with new openings also planned for Cardiff, Leicester and Leeds.  A self-proclaimed ‘curry evangelist’, she’ll be sharing insights into her career so far – and future plans for Mowgli – in a highly-anticipated opening day Keynote interview (12.45pm, 27 February).

Another brand enjoying further expansion is The Alchemist Bars & Restaurants, with restaurant sales now accounting for 50% of turnover across the estate (up from 35% prior to the MBO in 2015).  Just this month it opened its second London site, in Covent Garden, taking its total to 14 outlets.  In his opening day Keynote ‘From cocktails to covers’, MD Simon Potts will be discussing how they’ve evolved from a late-night bar to all day dining serving around 25,000 covers a week.

Other show firsts include a Soil Association-hosted panel session taking an in-depth look at ‘The growth of organic in casual dining’.  Plus, Mark McCulloch, founder & CEO of WE ARE Spectacular, will host a live recording of his hugely-popular Spectacular Marketing Podcast featuring a quartet of leading casual dining marketers.  Among them will be Lesley Mcllroy, who recently joined Bill’s Restaurants as senior marketing manager (having previously worked at Comptoir Group, Peach Pub Company, and Greene King).

Five further panel sessions are soon to be unveiled, covering everything from launching overseas to coping with a crisis, plus tips for success from leading pub and restaurant executive chefs.

Previously confirmed speakers for Casual Dining 2019 include Jon Knight, head of Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, Brewdog’s David MacDowell (CEO of Retail), and Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality.  Plus, there will also be headline Keynote interviews featuring Mark Jones, CEO of Carluccio’s, and Steve Richards, CEO of Casual Dining Group (both talking to CGA’s Peter Martin).

Free advance trade registration

Casual Dining will take place at the new venue of ExCeL London on 27-28 February 2019.

“I always find Casual Dining a hugely enjoyable show.  Innovative, interesting and populated by exciting and relevant products.  I am sure that the move to ExCeL next year will prove to be the best yet!” says Jeremy Roberts, CEO of Living Ventures.

“Casual Dining is the definitive show in our sector and always a hub of new and innovative products.  I look forward to seeing the show grow when it is in its new home in 2019,” says Steve Packer, head of supply chain at Pizza Hut Restaurants.

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