When retail meets hospitality
During the pandemic the lines between retail and hospitality began to blur as pubs became shops, shops became cafes and sit-in restaurants launched online stores. Team HRC caught up with a number of business owners operating across retail and hospitality spaces to learn about some of the challenges and opportunities that arise.
Sam's Riverside, and Sam's Larder
Sam's Riverside, an expansive West London brasserie with a sophisticated Anglo-French menu, was opened by owner Sam Harrison in November 2019, just a few short months before the hospitality landscape was dramatically impacted by the onset of lockdown and Covid-19. Like many enterprising business owners during this unprecedented time, Sam didn't rest on his laurels and in August 2020 Sam's Larder was born.
"It started as a means of survival, but has grown and now led us to open our second shop," he explains. "I love running both, there are lots of great benefits and crossover. Food shops can have a lot of wastage, and it's sometimes hard to predict sales, but we can use items in the restaurant from the shop and visa versa. We also produce restaurant quality food to sell in the shops. I love being able to sell products from our restaurant suppliers in the shops; some items are not normally available in retail and so I hope that makes them exciting for our customers."
Running retail outlets is very different from running restaurants, he continues.
"My attitude is very much that we treat the shop like a hospitality experience for our guests. I guess the biggest challenge has been finding the right “hospitality” people to work in retail. Alongside that, it always takes time to work our what is selling and what not. Interestingly some items that sell in the shop in Hammersmith, don’t seem to be as popular in Chiswick and visa versa.
"It’s a real hardship having to find wonderful products for the shop. We always want to try and find the best! We work with some of our restaurant suppliers, who often don’t normally supply to retail, and we try and work with small brands who may be starting out on their journey too. It's lovely to grow together!
Farm Girl at Sweaty Betty
Perched on the first floor of the Sweaty Betty Flagship store on the vibrant pedestrianised Carnaby Street is the Farm Girl concession, bringing fresh, healthy and nourishing food to central Londoners. With an emphasis on smoothie bowls and salads, visitors can still expect to find signature dishes to satisfy their coffee and brunch fix.
Farm Girl Creative Director & Co-Founder Rose Hood spoke to HRC about how this unique retail & hospitality partnership came about.
"Tamara Hill Norton, Founder of Sweaty Betty, got in touch with me as I think she had eaten in the Notting Hill restaurant and loved the concept," says Hood. "She came to meet me in Notting Hill and we had a coffee! Our cafe is set above Sweaty Betty in its own space, so it doesn’t feel like it is within the shopping experience. I do think consumers who have been busy shopping look forward to a comfortable and relaxed sitting with easy food. Our food is honest and healthy without being boring. It’s simple stuff: eggs, sandwiches, avo toast. It’s not supposed to be fancy or too indulgent. Just good, honest food with no hidden ingredients.
"Working with Sweaty Betty has been amazing. Their team are incredible and we have definitely gained from the marketing reach. It is a small site for us, with little working space, so we have to be clever with our ordering and menus. We also can not rely too much on footfall in that site as we are off the ground floor, so finding us is a little challenge, but we still manage to fill it up everyday!"
We ask Hood what advice she would give to hospitality brands thinking of entering into partnerships with high street retailers.
"Make sure the brand isn’t too strict with you and trying to change to look and feel of your brand to fit theirs," she advises. "Sweaty Betty were very good because they wanted us to use our brand colours. I would be careful of closed markets: if you have to rely on the shop's customers for your trade, then you might struggle."