The Fashion of Food: An Interview with Colliers International

Managing Director and leading food expert for Future Food, Francis Loughran sat down with Colliers International in New Zealand to talk about where food in retail has been, where it is now and where it is headed for the future. The original article was published as part of Collier International's Christchurch City Retail Portfolio which can be viewed here

Francis Loughran is internationally renowned for his expertise in Retail Food and Food Service Management. He is the founding Director of Melbourne-based Future Food and has been involved in the food service industry for 40 years. 

His first New Zealand job was the food court at Christchurch’s South City shopping centre in 1989. Since then Francis has completed jobs on these shores including Sylvia Park in Auckland and Auckland Airport. In Australia, he’s masterplanned a multitude of food and beverage destinations including Melbourne’s Emporium, Queen Victoria Market, South Bank and Federation Square.  

Future Food develops food destinations that maximise the asset’s value and rental income while creating positive customer-centric experiences. 

Francis says that demand for food and beverage experiences is growing like never before. Food is now a fashion – driven by trends, seasonality and hype. In short, food is the new black. 


The Interview


Why is master planning so important in planning food and hospitality spaces?

Masterplanning is essentially about developing a road map to maximise a food and beverage offering. It’s a strategic planning process that helps you create hospitality spaces and destinations that draw customers and encourage them to stay longer, spend more and return. The aim is to maximise sales, rents and asset value over the long term. This means your food and beverage offering must be the best, otherwise you won’t survive. See how Future Food can help you masterplan your food precinct


What are the fundamentals that need to be considered?

1. Understand your customer.

2. Understand the importance of good interior design.

3. Have a contemporary and relevant food offering. 

4. Ensure your menu evolves. Don’t serve the same thing you did 10 years ago.

 Kettle Black - One of the most popular cafe's in Melbourne and one of Francis' favourites for showing what good food, good service and good design can do for a hospitality business -  see the full design at Design Milk

Kettle Black - One of the most popular cafe's in Melbourne and one of Francis' favourites for showing what good food, good service and good design can do for a hospitality business - see the full design at Design Milk


What are the biggest mistakes that food & beverage operators make?

They think that there’s no competition. But the customer has so much choice today that they don’t have to keep going to an average café. Basically, it all comes down to bad food, bad service, bad attitude. Make any or all of these mistakes and your customers won’t be returning. 


What are the most important factors in creating a great experience for customers?

A beautiful environment is key - whether it be for a café court, a café strip, a restaurant strip or an externalised dining terrace. These spaces need to be design driven as people are attracted to beautiful spaces and they want to sit in beautiful cafes. The modern retail complex must consider these basic principles. 

Consistency is also crucial to ensure people return. One off day can cost you customers.

Successful businesses reinvest in things like menus, fresh flowers, new uniforms, new crockery. You walk into them and you can feel the energy; they feel alive and welcoming. A business that is failing shows that it’s failing. Read "Keep it Physical: Store Design and In-Store Merchandising"

 Melbourne's Serotonin Eatery serving up 'fashionable', healthy food -  See the Insider City Guide Melbourne  for Melbourne's 5 best brunches

Melbourne's Serotonin Eatery serving up 'fashionable', healthy food - See the Insider City Guide Melbourne for Melbourne's 5 best brunches


What are the key trends from your perspective in the food & hospitality sector?

Local cafes, local food stores, local markets with good food – not just carrots and parsnips. Everything that embraces healthy and wholesome food options across all meals.We’ll continue to see a growth in burger and grill bars and Japanese food is still extremely popular. 

The other thing that’s big is an amazing breakfast menu with all sorts of dishes such as re-invented bacon and egg dishes, breakfast burgers on charcoal buns, smoothie bowls and pancakes fit for photographing. 

I think we’ll also see the continuing growth of the evening economy with major cities transforming into 24-hour hubs. Why close your café at 4pm? People want somewhere nice to go after work or before the theatre. Extend your trading day to create an evening experience. 

Additional Note: Francis also believes the growth in digital technology is a major factor that everyone in the hospitality industry should be on top of. This digital technology is connecting customers with malls and  hospitality and can be used to the industry's advantage. Read more on how technology is elevating the hospitality industry


What will we be eating and drinking in five years’ time?

Classical cuisines that are presented in a modern and healthy format. It’s food that we’ve grown up with – the likes of great French and Italian dishes, modern Mexican, Spanish and Cantonese that have an updated and added touch of today. 

We’ll continue to eat a lot more outside the home as people increasingly equate food and beverage with leisure and recreation.

While the rest of the retail industry is worried about the rise of online, the food and beverage sector is largely immune because it’s an experience-based economy centralised around socialising and mixing with friends. 

We'd like to thank Colliers International NZ for the interview -