Casual Dining follows Lunch to ExCel

The 2018 Casual Dining show was the last at the Business Design Centre.

The Casual Dining trade show will be heading to London ExCel next year, following the success of a similar move for its sister exhibition, Lunch, last year.

The announcement was made as this year’s edition, held at the Business Design Centre in Islington on 21-22 February, attracted 4,803 unique attendees and 200 exhibitors.

The event attracts buyers, wholesalers and distributors from the casual dining sector, with one in three visitors boasting a corporate spend in excess of £1m.

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Eva Ellis, Casual Dining’s event manager, commented: “We are absolutely delighted that the show has been such a success.

“There was a fantastic buzz across the show floor from the moment doors open, and it was a very busy, valuable and productive two days for everyone involved. Casual Dining is the two days a year that multi-site restaurant, pub and bar operators get together, and the support from the industry this year, as always, has been phenomenal.”

The show’s popularity means it has reached capacity at the BDC. Therefore the decision was taken to move it to ExCel to accommodate more exhibitors, two keynote theatres, and enable easier navigation for visitors around one show floor.

Organiser, Diversified Communications, also feels that when the Elizabeth line opens later this year, ExCeL London will become more accessible.

“The move to ExCeL has generated a lot of interest and enthusiasm from across the casual dining sector,” said group event director Chris Brazier.

“It’s a testament to the show’s continuing success, and demonstrates just how important Casual Dining has become to suppliers and buyers looking to do business here.  It’s their unmissable show.

“We’ve seen unparalleled demand for exhibition space, with a record onsite rebook and many exhibitors asking to take substantially bigger stands next year. It’s all hugely encouraging for the future growth of this vibrant sector and, of course, Casual Dining itself – the only show targeted, focused and dedicated to serving it.

“Huge thanks, as always, must go to all our exhibitors, visitors, media and association partners, who we know are as excited about the move to our new home at ExCeL as we are.”

The record onsite rebook saw 76% of exhibitors confirm their participation at the next edition, including Panasonic and Rational UK – the latter of which was also presented with a Silver Innovation Challenge Award at the show for its ConnectedCooking 2.0 online portal for its combi oven users.

The Innovation Challenge saw 13 finalists (chosen by popular visitor vote from 50 entries this year) taking turns to pitch their innovations to an expert panel of restaurant and pub buyers – including Alice Elwes (Côte Brasserie), Megan Lewis-Thomas (Casual Dining Group), Chris Knights (Young’s & Geronimo Inns), Antony Bennett (Loungers), Glenn Evans (Las Iguanas), Simon Xavier (The Restaurant Group), and Keith Bird (former chief operating officer at GBK).

The results (announced on 22 February) saw five companies receive gold innovation awards, three were awarded silver and three collected bronze.

Casual Dining will take place at the new venue of ExCeL London on 27-28 February 2019. Booking for new exhibitors opens at 10am on Monday 19 March.

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