SUDDENLY PRICE ISN’T THE FIRST THING BUYERS TALK ABOUT
Following the retirement of Alison Lessmann, founder of En Route, new md Robert Dalboth looks ahead to new opportunities and trends
It’s an exciting time for our industry. The quality of everything the industry does has increased and we are seeing an upswing in requests for real innovation and choice. Airline catering budgets have become slightly bigger and suddenly price isn’t the first thing buyers talk about.
There is a new interest in regional products, provenance and sustainable packaging. This all adds complexity to onboard programmes but complexity is what we thrive on! The lines are blurring between cabins too. The Economy passenger of today may well be in Business tomorrow and wherever they sit, they increasingly expect to be surprised and entertained by the onboard offer. They want it to come with a real sense of theatre.
Can do culture
En Route is in great shape to respond to this change, largely thanks to the tremendous internal culture Alison always fostered. I believe in that too, having been a part of it for the past eight years and having seen how it enables the business to thrive.
En Route is known for its agility and a ‘no challenge too difficult’ approach, so looking ahead we will build on this, focusing more than ever on our products and on our geographical reach. We are pushing out across Europe, developing operations in the Middle East, Far East and Australasia, and building our footprint in the US.
Product wise we will continue to focus most on what we are really good at – our bakery heritage, innovative cheese ranges, hot handheld snacks and snack boxes.
Onboard retail is clearly going to grow significantly and a big part of that will be about bringing retail brands onboard.
The consumer has confidence in brands they already know, and increasingly those brands are also keen to be onboard but they don’t always understand the constraints and logistical demands. This is where our expertise can help both parties and ensure that big name brands, such as Kraft Heinz and Nando's, get onboard in a form which suits crew operations and galley requirements, maximises yield and is as environmentallysensitive as possible. It takes time to align their needs and working practices but this is something we are keen to do more of.
We have ambitious growth plans and being part of dnata has helped us decentralise our model and accelerate our development. We are well placed to put our ‘design-deliverdelight’ mantra into effect.