HIGH Street department store chain Debenhams is continuing the overhaul of its in-store hospitality offering by revamping its restaurants.
Having seen the success of the transformation of its coffee shops into Douwe Egberts Coffee at Debenhams - which increased sales of food and drink by 30 per cent almost overnight - the company decided that the £5million investment in its catering operations is essential to meet the demands of today`s shoppers..
The revamp of the restaurant offering will see them relaunched under the banner Style Cafe.
As well as updated interiors, Style Caf?s offer a new, freshly cooked menu with meals cooked to order and a new deli offering – all prepared in front of the customer.
Its a far cry from the days of pre-packed sandwiches – in their place are made-to-order baguettes, sandwiches and wraps and hot meals are made to order at the counter.
Foodservice director Peter Barrett, said: “We carried out major consumer research in 2006 which told us that customers wanted more choice, quicker service and better signage, while freshly prepared was a feature that came up time and time again.
“We responded with a new look that took all these factors into account and we tested the concept thoroughly in a couple of pilot stores.
"Customers really appreciated the freshly cooked approach and it brought them in droves. We are rolling the concepts out nationally and already, the results have been dramatic.”
“Although the concepts are developed and recipes fine-tuned at the centre, our catering managers in-store are responsible for delivering the results.
"Their local knowledge and professionalism have helped us exceed all our original forecasts."
Some 10 per cent of Debenhams` employees are involved in foodservice. Mr Barrett added: “We believe that a great food experience is an integral part of our customers’ shopping experience which is why we are continually refreshing and updating our food concepts."