The president of Restaurama, Antoni Llorens, has been at the head of the Serunion group for nearly three decades, a leader in catering for communities, in which more than 20,700 people work in Spain. An industrial engineer from the UPC and MBA from IESE, he is also president of the Spanish Federation of Associations Dedicated to Social Restoration (FEADRS). In this interview, Llorens discusses some of the most relevant aspects of Restaurama, one of the main shows at Alimentaria 2020, and analyses the positive moment that a sector that he knows in depth is going through.
With nine months to go before its celebration, Restaurama 2020 already has 60% of its reserved space. How do you evaluate this positive response from companies in the sector?
Restaurama has established itself as a must for the professional in the hotel and catering industry. Proof of this is its high participation and activity with nine months to go. Undoubtedly, the meeting plays its most competitive card by having companies from the foodservice sector and the most influential professionals in the Horeca channel.
It is also an event in which many of the exhibiting companies return edition after edition. To what do you attribute this high degree of loyalty?
The event is a real economic showcase for the entire sector, which sees Restaurama as a platform for access to new business opportunities, reinventing itself and establishing first-class professional contacts.
The HORECA 2020 platform (made up of Hostelco, Restaurama and their respective related activities, which will cover an area of around 35,000 m2) represents the consolidation of the strategic alliance between the two shows initiated in Alimentaria 2018. How will exhibitors and visitors to the show benefit from this initiative?
At this event, exhibitors and visitors have the opportunity to strengthen relations with companies in the sector, to create synergies to boost their activity, as well as to see firsthand the novelties, trends and solutions for their business. Thanks to the alliance established, this show has experienced spectacular growth, offering the most complete and international sectorial offer to professionals and positioning itself as a European benchmark for the Horeca channel.
The international perception of catering in Spain continues to be very positive. To what extent will this be reflected in Restaurama 2020?
In the previous edition, Hostelco and Alimentaria had a total of 4,500 exhibiting companies and 150,000 visitors, 30% international from 156 countries. Restaurama 2020 plans to repeat this success of international participation, and we are working with the vision of overcoming it. In this sense, we are inviting importers and distributors of the Horeca channel from different countries. With this international focus, Restaurama also opens up interesting business and export opportunities for the participating brands.
As a benchmark event in the restaurant sector, what challenges must the show address and what value proposals will it offer to professionals participating as exhibitors and visitors?
Once again this year, the meeting will show solutions for the challenges facing the sector such as the digital environment, new eating habits, sustainability, internationalisation and productivity. This edition of the show will be a unique opportunity to see the innovations that are transforming the hospitality industry.
Sales in the restaurant market in Spain grew by 2.1% in 2018 (which is the fourth consecutive annual growth) and the number of customers also increased by 1%, according to market research firm The NPD Group. What is your view on the evolution of the sector in recent years? Do you think that this upward trend will continue in 2019/2020?
Statistics show how the population is returning to restaurants after a few years of choosing to eat at home. And this is not only because of the inertia of the economic recovery, but also because of the effort the sector is making to renew itself. I believe that this growth will continue in the coming years, although the companies in the sector must continue to bet every day for innovation, the creation of new food concepts aimed at different segments of the population and excellence in service, to maintain this upward trend.
Turnover in the home-delivery segment rose by 17%, a remarkable figure along with the take-away boom. Do you think these trends will continue to grow so significantly?
Yes, as long as the companies in the sector are able to offer personalized and flexible solutions that satisfy our entire universe of diners in the different situations that each of them can find. The consumer needs convenience food solutions and is less and less willing to have to participate a lot in their elaboration.
The collectives and catering group also experienced remarkable growth in 2017, with an increase of 5.6% in the number of stores and a 6.2% increase in production, according to data from the Spanish Confederation of Hotel and Catering of Spain (CEHE). What is your assessment of the current state of this segment?
The collective catering sector in Spain is at a good moment, it has become very professional. It eats much better than it did years ago. It is a relatively young sector which, with its ups and downs, has been growing and has been tidying up. In 1992 the rate of outsourcing of the collective catering market in all areas was 19% and today it reaches 48%. Companies operating in the sector have been able to offer customized solutions that convince all types of user profiles. All this, working from innovation in technology and with a clear commitment to quality and proximity of products.