Maxol envisions a different future for food-to-go than what we might have become accustomed to.
In 2018 Maxol added to its food-to-go offer in company-owned sites with grab-and-go stations for hot deli items. However, Brian believes this model will be less popular with customers post pandemic.
“How we manage food service will be different,” explains Maxol CEO Brian Donaldson. “There will be an even greater focus in terms of packaging the product for pick up and go. Open salad bars will not be there for the foreseeable future as people don’t have the confidence in who will have touched the product before them. We do see a move to more products being packaged in terms of bakery and meal solutions. What we must do now is make sure that we show our customers we have the best and the right hygiene and sanitisation measures across all our stores.”
Plans are already well advanced to adapt Maxol’s traditional deli model with more prepared food to help reduce queue times by moving to faster delivery of service, which is being overseen by Food Concepts Manager Aoife Kearney.
Going forward, retailers may have to decide on how to repurpose their in-store seating areas.
“I’m not sure a large majority of customers will want to use seating areas anytime soon, so we need to look at how we use that space as we move through the pandemic. Some of the floor area can be used for queuing to maintain social distancing and it is mostly likely that a decision will be made for each site depending on demand for sit-in service.”
While there have been many learnings to take from this period, especially on how retail might look in the future, the use of technology instore has become imperative. Most convenience stores are not set up in the same way as the multiples to effortlessly roll out home delivery and click and collect, but Maxol-owned stores have been rising to the challenge.
“In the future our stores will become more of a pick-up point – we’ve seen a huge increase in demand for these services as well as mobile payments both for fuel and in-store purchases.
“We have learned the value of technology and how it has enabled us to run our business remotely. Prior to this, I would have been quite sceptical about the benefits of remote working, but now feel it will have a larger part to play in terms of how we work as a business.”
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